MULBERRY, Arkansas (KTHV) - American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame Inc. (AVS) today announced it is opening an edamame processing facility in Mulberry, Arkansas. The company plans to invest $5.8 million in the facility which will eventually employ approximately 51 people.
JYC International, the parent company for AVS, has been researching the possibility of domestic production in an effort to find soybeans comparable to the consistency and quality of edamame imported from China.
"AVS is excited to be part of the larger Arkansas community and, more specifically, the city of Mulberry as we work together to make this new vegetable soybean industry successful and sustainable," said Dr. Gene Chung, president of JYC International. "We are grateful for the hard work, dedication and persistence from so many in this state, AEDC, ADFA and the University of Arkansas in particular, as well as the local communities to help make this day possible. We look forward to many years of success here as we become the edamame capital of the United States."
Edamame is one of the fastest growing specialty foods in the United States. Edamame is a soybean harvested at the peak of ripening. It is often eaten as a snack, a vegetable dish, in soups, and processed into sweets. Its popularity has soared in the past few years as soy plants have been touted to balance hormones, improve elasticity of the arteries, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
"The arrival of American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame in Mulberry marks an exciting new opportunity for the Arkansas River Valley," Governor Mike Beebe said. "AVS's parent company, JYC International, has been a leader in developing America's edamame market, and brings along a client base that will be a boon for Crawford County."
While the Arkansas Delta is more widely known for soybean production, the University of Arkansas's Division of Agriculture has been testing soybean growth in the Arkansas River Valley for several years.
"The Division of Agriculture in the University of Arkansas System is extremely pleased with the opportunity to support the development of an edamame soybean industry in Arkansas," said Dr. Mark Cochran, vice president for agriculture, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. "We are very excited about this great opportunity to diversify into a new crop and to enhance the tremendous impact that Agriculture has on the state's economy by pursuing another value-add enterprise to supplement farm production. From variety development to technical support to field demonstrations, the Division of Agriculture stands ready to support the growth of this new enterprise."
JYC International was founded in the mid-1990s by J.Y. Chung as an import and export company aimed at trading products between the U.S. and the Asian countries. J.Y. Chung is also the founder of Chung's Gourmet Foods which has manufactured and distributed Asian packaged foods in the U.S. for more than 20 years. Since 2002, JYC International has been importing frozen foods from China to the U.S. The imported frozen foods have been directly and indirectly distributed to the U.S. markets such as Costco Wholesale Clubs, Sam's Club, Golden Corral restaurant chains, major U.S. grocery chains and the oriental food markets.
"The City of Mulberry is grateful to Dr. Gene Chung for selecting Mulberry as the site for American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame Inc.," said Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter. "Being partners with a new company that will bring 50 or more full-time jobs to the Arkansas River Valley is very exciting. In addition, the edamame product grown, processed and distributed from this company will supply a very healthy food product for not only the U.S. market(s) but the overseas markets as well. We truly believe that this is a blessing from God for our community, our region, our state and our country at a time when jobs are at the forefront of our nation's economic discussions. Yes, we are grateful."