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Made in the USA: Georgia factory exports chopsticks to China

On the site of a former auto parts plant in the small southwest Georgia town of Americus, a factory is turning the abundant local hardwood trees into chopsticks — for export to China. 

Jae Lee, a US citizen of Korean origin, opened the Georgia Chopsticks factory in May last year, the European Pressphoto Agency reports. Lee says it's the only chopstick factory anywhere in the Americas.

Erik S. Lesser / EPA

Cut and steamed poplar trees are quickly moved inside at the Georgia Chopsticks factory in Americus, Georgia, on Feb. 7, 2012.

The close proximity of fast-growing soft hardwoods such as poplar and sweet gum makes the factory's location in South Georgia ideal.

The factory employs 108 people and Lee says the company has plans to expand into other product lines. Of the more than four million sets of chopsticks it rolls out each day, 99.7 per cent are exported to customers in Asia.

Erik S. Lesser / EPA

Esteban Fabela peels away the bark from a steaming log.

Erik S. Lesser / EPA

Tee Kendrick, left, and Toriano Jenkins roll up chopped wood for further cutting.

Erik S. Lesser / EPA

Chopsticks are moved on a conveyor belt.