Frito-Lay Inc. will move into its 235,000-square-foot, $20 million warehouse and distribution center in September, a year after its completion, a company official says.
Robbi Dietrich, director of government affairs for the Texas-based snack food company, said about 50 workers will be transferred from other company locations when the center opens.
About half of the Frito-Lay building, near U.S. 40 and Route 715, will be occupied in September, and the remainder is to open later as a manufacturing operation, but no date has been set, Ms. Dietrich said.
"We have been working continuously with Maryland and Harford County officials to get the manufacturing operation on line," she added. The manufacturing side will employ about 300, she said.
Ms. Dietrich attributed the delay primarily to a decline in company sales for single-serving snack items since the state imposed a "snack tax."
On June 1, Maryland began charging a 5 percent sales tax on snacks and prepared foods bought in grocery stores -- longtime bastions of tax-free food shopping.
"That tax really hurt our products that fall into the 25 cent-to-75 cent range," Ms. Dietrich said.
Frito-Lay has 38 manufacturing facilities in 22 states.
The company also says the Aberdeen facility's completion came at a time when product demand across the country had declined.
"We wish we could have started the distribution operation as soon as the building was completed," Ms. Dietrich said.
"It's very unusual for our company to allow a new facility to remain vacant. From a company prospective, it was to our advantage. It gave us an opportunity to upgrade equipment in a few . . . existing facilities."