RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Natural food coloring innovator GNT USA, Inc. plans to invest $30 million to build a food processing facility in Gaston County’s Apple Creek Corporate Center, about 25 miles west of Charlotte.

The company, the U.S. subsidiary of Netherlands-based family-owned GNT International B.V., has agreed to purchase 49.24 acres for this, its first U.S. facility, and to create some 40 jobs over several phases.

GNT USA said it will tap interstate and regional sources for the vegetables it will use in its production. The company contract-produces and extracts colorants from a wide variety of specialty vegetables and fruits.


“As a family owned business, we believe that for any company to be successful, the most important ingredients are its people and the way they interact with each other,” said Hendrik Hoeck, chairman of GNT USA. “A big part of why we selected Apple Creek Corporate Center is because of the great people of Gaston County who made me feel welcome every time during my multiple visits to the area.

“We are an international company with over 20 years of successful business in the USA. With our growth strategy we continuously invest to serve our customers with the best coloring food solutions. We take pride in being part of America’s daily diet and look forward to having that part of America’s dinner table come from Gaston County.”

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is among numerous organizations working with GNT on its selection of this site for its newest food colorant factory.

Other partners in the project included the Gaston County Economic Development Commission and  Board of Commissioners, the Gastonia City Council, Two Rivers Utilities, Gaston College, Rutherford Electric Membership, Alfred Benesch & Company, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

NCBiotech, partners seek new approaches to food

NCBiotech commissioned a “carrot performance trial” in 2017 after determining that colored carrots could be an excellent source of natural food coloring with a potential for production and processing in North Carolina, said Paul Ulanch, executive director of the Biotech Center’s Crop Commercialization Program.

Purple carrots like these being tested in NC could be a useful new crop for NC farmers
interested in becoming involved in the natural food colorants sourced by GNT. (Photo via NCBiotech)

The results of that project led to two follow-on grant awards from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services’ New & Emerging Crops program to evaluate carrot performance, disease management and grower profitability across the state.

“Six agribusinesses have since expressed interest in procuring carrots from North Carolina growers for a variety of products including fresh market, food colorants, pet foods, pulps, and juices,” said Ulanch.

“So NCBiotech is pleased GNT made the decision to open this foundational U.S. operation in North Carolina, and we will continue to work with this global leader in next-generation natural food colorants to identify additional opportunities for sourcing locally grown crops.“

Corie Curtis, executive director of the NCBiotech Greater Charlotte Office, also helped lay the groundwork for GNT’s decision.

“In alignment with NCBiotech’s Regional Impact of Statewide Engagement, or RISE, initiatives, the Greater Charlotte Office made a commitment to intentionally collaborate with partners to attract enterprises exactly like GNT,” said Curtis.

“Those endeavors directly support broader statewide efforts around food processing and human health/nutrition. Now we’re fortunate to be able to welcome GNT to the region, and to supporting its growth for the benefit of North Carolinians – and for the world.”

(C) N.C. Biotech Center