How tiny Saluda became a ramen noodle manufacturing giant.

Most people who live in South Carolina probably don't realize that a plant located in the small Midlands town of Saluda (population 3,122) produces millions of servings a year of one of the world's most popular easy-to-fix meals ramen noodles.

From U.S. 378, which runs right in front of it, the building that houses Palmetto Gourmet Foods Inc. looks like just another manufacturing facility. But what goes on inside is a new way of producing and thinking about the future of the quick-serve noodles, which are one of the most popular food items in the world. Experts estimate that about 100 billion servings of ramen are consumed annually worldwide.

Palmetto Gourmet Foods currently produces the Ramen Express and Chef Woo product lines, which are available in more than 15,000 retailers nationwide including Walmart and Costco. The noodles are also available across Canada.

The company's mission is much more than just producing noodles, however, according to Palmetto Gourmet Foods co-founder and CEO Reza Soltanzadeh. One of his and his company's biggest goals is to find a way to feed as many people around the world as possible by fighting the growing issue of food insecurity.

He is trained as a doctor but entered the business world shortly after completing medical school, looking to find a way to pair his concern for human health with a desire to develop products that could help people at all income levels live healthier lives.

In his quest to make healthy foods more available to people worldwide, Soltanzadeh in 2019 first founded food tech innovation company Borealis Foods, which is based in Toronto. Palmetto Gourmet Foods is a subsidiary of Borealis.

"The mission of the company is to produce healthy food that is truly affordable and also sustainable," Soltanzadeh told SC Biz News. "When we say healthy, we mean food that is high quality and also contains a good amount of protein. For many people around the world, finding access to that type of food at an affordable price is a huge challenge. My thought was, can we get a meal with about 20 grams of protein that would be less than $2 retail at Wal-Mart? Our food scientists initially were shocked and said that was impossible.

How Saluda became a ramen noodle hotspot

In the quest to deliver protein-rich meals to the masses, Soltanzadeh worked consistently with scientists and in 2019 developed technology to make high-protein dough. The next question: what to make?

"We could potentially have done pasta...

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