Wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard USA of New York announced Tuesday that it will invest $22 million in an upgrade to its Hiram Walker plant in Fort Smith, installing a new production line it said will allow it to add new products and upwards of 50 jobs.
The company said it will install its first ready-to-drink canning line, allowing it to handle canned products by brands including Jameson, Absolut, Malibu and TX Whiskey.
"This investment is an incredible step in strengthening our manufacturing footprint in Fort Smith," Pernod Ricard North America Senior Vice President Pierre Joncourt said in a news release. "The high-speed canning line will be instrumental in increasing our production capabilities and swiftly bringing our premium, bar-quality RTDs to market."
RTDs include hard seltzers, prepared cocktails and long drinks, hard teas and coffees, wine spritzers and coolers. The company said the category is poised to become the fastest growing alcohol category globally over the next five years, increasing by $11.6 billion.
"Volume has only continued to increase for our Fort Smith facility and the spirits industry overall," said Jennifer Anglin, the plant's senior operations director. "This latest canning line expansion will not only allow us to produce various spirits across our brand portfolio, but more importantly, it will create numerous jobs to keep up with demand."
The plant already produces brands including Kahlua Coffee Liqueur; Seagram’s Gin, the bestselling gin in the United States; and Hiram Walker liqueurs, ranging from peppermint schnapps to watermelon schnapps to triple sec to blackberry brandy.
In 2017, the plant had been producing about 6 million cases of various alcoholic beverages annually. It employs 220 people.
Pernod Ricard USA the largest subsidiary of Pernod Ricard SA of Paris, the world's second largest spirits and wine company. The company employs about 19,000 people worldwide.
The company's Hiram Walker plant opened in 1981. The 357,000-SF facility is at 7401 State Highway 45.