French Baked Goods Company Reaffirms ‘Our Instincts in Choosing Lehigh Valley Were Correct’
By Colin McEvoy on June 4, 2018
It all started at a meeting in a cafe in Paris.
Norac, one of France’s largest manufacturer of natural bakery snacks, was seeking to enter into the U.S. market to manufacture and sell its products under the brand name Bakerly, and several regions in various Northeastern states were under consideration.
But the Lehigh Valley quickly rose to the top of the list, and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) was the only entity from any of the regions under consideration to visit Norac in its home country as part of its recruitment efforts.
“Every day that passes has shown our instincts about choosing the Lehigh Valley were correct,” Julien Caron, president of the subsidiary Norac Group USA, said during an inauguration event on May 31 for its facility in Forks Township. “We’re glad to have the Lehigh Valley as our first international site, and hopefully it’s the first of many.”
Currently employing about 50 employees, the 79,160 square-foot facility at 4200 Braden Blvd. in Forks Township has been manufacturing grab-and-go crepes and brioche products since mid-October. In total, Norac has more than 25 factories around the world and employs more than 5,000 people around the world.
“We’re here to turn delicious French-inspired products into everyday American products,” Caron said. “We want to do for crepes and brioche what the Italians did for pizza.”
Making the transition into American markets proved to be a challenge, Caron said. In addition to the normal difficulties associated with selecting a site, Norac encountered multiple challenges transitioning into a new country for the first time, such as navigating the regulatory climate, finding suppliers, and learning how business laws differ between the U.S. and France.
LVEDC was able to provide assistance in this area. In addition to helping with property identification, access to incentives, and information about the market of the region, LVEDC provided guidance on how to do business in the United States, set up meetings with tax and regulatory agencies, and connected them with American suppliers for ingredients.
Caron said the company was also attracted to the Lehigh Valley due to its central location, proximity to the Port of New York and New Jersey, access to highways, and the long-established “industrial and manufacturing culture in the region.”
“To achieve this required a lot of expertise, but we felt ready to enter the U.S. market,” said Bruno Caron, Chairman and Founder of Norac Foods, and Julien’s father. “We believe Bakerly will bring something valuable to this great American market.”
Cunningham and Jarrett Witt, LVEDC Director of Business Development, visited Norac during an eight-day international business development tour through Western Europe in 2015, which included stops in Germany, France, and England. LVEDC also embarked on a similar two-week tour in China last summer.
LVEDC has translated marketing materials into nine different languages and actively sends them to companies and officials all over the world. LVEDC officials also actively work with a network of business investment representatives across the globe to attract businesses to the Lehigh Valley.
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