By MATT MILNER
---- — EDDYVILLE — Gov. Terry Branstad was fond of reminding area voters during his last campaign that he was in office when Ajinomoto arrived at Eddyville. On Wednesday, he was back to mark the 20-year anniversary.
Ajinomoto's Eddyville facilities produce lysine and monosodium glutamate, commonly called MSG. The MSG came first and has deep ties to Ajinomoto's corporate history. The company's name means “essence of taste,” a reference to the product itself.
Branstad praised the company as “a great corporate citizen of Eddyville and of Iowa.”
“I was told on the tour that in all the time Ajinomoto has been here, they haven't laid off a single worker,” he said.
In fact, about a dozen employees present when it opened two decades ago are still at the facility. Many were on hand Wednesday.
A delegation from the company's U.S. headquarters as well as from Tokyo was present, including Tomoya Yoshizumi, president of Ajinomoto's North American operations.
A Bubba-Q lunch followed the formal speeches. Each table had two rows of small, white containers with red caps. A quick glance would have mistaken them for salt shakers.
In fact, they hadn't travelled nearly as far as salt would have. They were full of MSG from Ajinomoto.