Snack Attack

Calbee America offers some fun and healthy alternatives

By Sheri Broussard/Reporter Intern
Product profile:
• Calbee America's Snap Pea Crisps are billed as "a salad as a snack."
• The snack food has been on the market for five years.
• The peas come from Canada and are prepared through a secret process that takes about 15 minutes. Packages are ready to be shipped after a few days.
• Snap Pea Crisps are available in original and Ceasar flavors, and are available at most grocery stores.
• One package costs $1.69.

A Japanese-owned snack food manufacturer is set to move its production to Solano County's corporate backyard.

Calbee America, Inc. - a producer of healthy snack foods for the United States, Canada and Europe - will open a 40,000-square-foot facility in Fairfield by the end of this year, confirmed Plant Manager Douglass Warriner. The new plant, currently under construction in the Solano Business Park, will be much larger than the firm's current facility in Sebastopol.

"We will be closing the plant in Sebastopol and moving all production to Fairfield," said Warriner. The Torrance-based company's primary reason for doing so is because of Fairfield's proximity to Interstate 80.

Calbee Foods Co. Ltd., Calbee America's parent company, was established in 1949 in Japan as Matsuo Food Processing Co. Ltd. It is currently Japan's largest potato chip manufacturer, with consolidated sales totaling more than $1 billion.

"We sell different types of snack foods and have the largest potato chip factory in Japan," said Warriner. The parent company's Japanese product line includes myriad flavors of potato chips from barbecue to curry, as well as snack crackers and even cereals .

In the United States, Warriner said, "We make shrimp chips, which are targeted more toward the Asian community, and pea snacks that can be found in most grocery stores."

The shrimp chips were first introduced in Japan in 1964 as "Kappa Ebisen," or shrimp-flavored crackers. Six years later, production of the popular shrimp cracker began in the United States when Calbee America was established in California.

"We try to produce snacks that are healthy and fun," said Warriner.

Calbee America's newest product, Snow Pea Crisps, debuted on the U.S. market five years ago.

"The pea snacks are my favorite; I eat them every day," said Warriner.

Calbee America products can be found in the produce section or Asian food aisle at grocery stores including Nugget Markets, Safeway and Albertsons or at specialty grocers such as Trader Joe's, Cost Plus World Market and Whole Foods.

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