Food and Beverage Processing in Virginia

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Food & Beverage Processing

Rappahannock Oyster Co., Middlesex County Sabra Dipping Company, Chesterfield County Babylon Micro-Farms, Richmond Virginia Diner, Sussex County
V Sabra Dipping Company, Chesterfield County • I Stone Brewing Co., Richmond • R Massimo
USA, Suffolk • G The Gatorade
Wythe County • I Unilever, Suffolk • N A. Smith
County • I Mondelez International, Henrico County • A Mr. Peanut Statue, Suffolk
More than 200 food and beverage processing companies chose to locate or expand in Virginia over the last decade, attracted by the Commonwealth’s unique combination of advantages and resources for this booming industry.
Zanetti Beverage
Bowman Distillery, Spotsylvania
Why Virginia? 1 Optimal Location to Serve East Coast Markets 2 Advanced Logistics Infrastructure to Enable Global Connectivity 5 Large and Diverse Food and Beverage Processing Ecosystem 13 America’s Top State for Talent 15 Attractive, Stable, and Predictable Operating Environment 17 Robust Portfolio of Project-Ready Sites 19 Exceptional Quality of Life

Optimal Location to Serve East Coast Markets

Virginia Provides Access for Acesur

For more than 150 years, Acesur has produced, packaged, and marketed olive oil. The company is a leader in the olive oil industry in Spain, exporting its products to more than 90 countries around the world. In 2020, Acesur USA established its first U.S. production facility for blending, bottling, and packaging its edible oil blends in Virginia. The Commonwealth offered the company a prime location in the city of Suffolk with direct access to The Port of Virginia, enabling the import and export of over 630 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) through the port annually.

Located at the center of the U.S. East Coast and within a one-day drive of 47% of the U.S. population, Virginia offers an ideal location to serve East Coast customers or to provide a single gateway to the U.S. market. Virginia was chosen due to its market proximity, progressive infrastructure investment, as well as The Port of Virginia’s proximity to the plant.

2 nd densest roadway and railway networks in the Southeast

3 rd largest port on the East Coast by container volume

16 commercial airports with flights to 100+ domestic and 50+ international destinations

Advanced Logistics Infrastructure to Enable Global Connectivity

1,500 miles of interstates, freeways, and expressways

3,000 miles of railways (anchored by Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern)

Virginia’s extensive network of well-maintained roads, railways, ports, and airports offers efficient logistics and global connectivity.

28 8 1 3 1 7 3 6 0 5 8 5 8 2 9 3 3 ¡ 2 3 1 9 30 1 25 0 2 1 1 50 1 22 0 22 1 1 5 6 0 7 7 7 5 2 6 8 5 9 5 6 4 7 7 9 5 7 1 7 0 6 8 7 9 6 4 4 0 4 0 4 0 6 6 6 4 8 1 8 1 95 85 95 6 4 2 9 77 77 TENNESSE E KE N TUCK Y OHI O WES T VIRGIN I A NO R TH CAROLI N A M A R Y L AN D DE L A W AR E NEW JERSEY BWI CHO DCA GSO IAD LWB LYH ORF PHF RDU RIC ROA SHD TRI TYS SBY Bristol Charlottesville Nor folk Richmond Roanoke Danville Winchester Kn oxvill e Charles to n Baltimo re G reensbo ro Raleig h Washington, D.C Commercial Airpor t The Por t of Virginia 6 4 Interstate 5 8 U.S. Highway 288 State Route Railroad

Virginia provides food and beverage manufacturers easy and efficient access to international markets and supply chains through The Port of Virginia, a modern, growing port.

The Port of Virginia is investing $1.4 billion to expand its assets, capabilities, and reach to create one of the most advanced ports in the Western Hemisphere by 2024.

The port’s completion of USDA’s Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Program, allowing Virginia to accept a broad range of imported perishable cargo, and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) designation that allows exchange-graded coffee to arrive through the port, are both part of The Port of Virginia’s focus on supporting Virginia’s food and beverage industry.

3 Virginia International Gateway, Portsmouth

The Nation’s Food Flows through The Port of Virginia

#1 exporter of vegetables

The Port of Virginia Helps

Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA Reach Customers


154 k teu s of food and beverage goods were imported and 93K were exported through The Port of Virginia in 2022

Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA (MZB-USA), one of the largest coffee groups in North America, is headquartered and operates a roasting and distribution facility in Suffolk. The company maintains its Hampton Roads presence in part because of the presence of the nearby facilities operated by The Port of Virginia.

Norfolk International Terminals and Virginia International Gateway are International Coffee Exchange (ICE)-certified facilities, with numerous exchange-certified warehouses in close proximity. The port was certified in 2016 as a delivery point for Arabica coffee beans traded through ICE futures contracts.

41 minutes average turn time for motor carriers in 2022, significantly below the industry standard of 60 minutes

MZB-USA has continued to invest in Virginia, opening a new state-of-the-art distribution center in Suffolk in 2021 and announcing an expansion of its roasting facility in the city in 2022. The port has invested along with it, with dredging in process to deepen and widen the shipping channel to accommodate two-way ultra-large container vessel traffic.

2,100 + reefer plug capacity at The Port of Virginia

Our proximity to major transit lanes and The Port of Virginia, one of the largest coffee ports in the country, further enhances our position and allows for continued growth, while adding to the economic vitality of the area.

150 reefer gensets offered by The Port of Virginia’s Hampton Roads Chassis Pool (HRCP)

Source: The Port of Virginia

on East Coast and one of the top in the U.S.

Large and Diverse Food and Beverage Processing Ecosystem

With the second-largest food and beverage processing sector in the Southeast, the Commonwealth offers a diverse ecosystem of partners and suppliers for food and beverage processors, including dozens of packagers and bottlers, 160+ warehousing and distribution establishments (including expansive cold storage options), and 43,000 farms.

Over the past 10 years, more than 200 food and beverage manufacturers have chosen to invest in Virginia, creating over 7,900 new jobs and making capital investments totaling $3.4B.

The Hershey Company has announced four major expansions in Augusta County since 2016, adding over 240 jobs and $280M in capital investment.

Tyson Foods, Inc., one of the world’s largest food companies, announced a facility in Danville-Pittsylvania County in 2021, creating 376 new jobs and investing $300M.

Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, one of the largest vertically integrated coffee companies in North America, announced an investment of $29.1M to consolidate and expand operations at its roasting facility in the City of Suffolk, marking one of several investments in the facility over the past decade and creating 79 new jobs.

Nestlé USA announced the relocation of its U.S. headquarters to Arlington County in 2017, creating 748 jobs and investing almost $40M. Just one year after Nestlé USA’s decision to relocate its U.S. corporate headquarters to Virginia, Nestlé S.A. subsidiary Gerber Products Company announced plans to move its headquarters from New Jersey to its sister company’s new office in Arlington.

Plenty Unlimited Inc. announced it will build the world’s largest indoor vertical farming campus in Chesterfield County’s Meadowville Technology Park, representing more than 300 full-time jobs and a $300M investment.

Dynamic Supply Chain from Farm to Table

Top existing product categories in Virginia include meat processing, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing, bakeries, and dairy product manufacturing, and sugar and confectionery products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing, bakeries, and dairy product manufacturing are among the fastest-growing sectors in Virginia.


50 +

Major packaging and bottling establishments in the Commonwealth

These suppliers are capable of handling the full array of packaging and bottling needs, including plastic film and sheet, box, paperboard, glass, and metal can manufacturing.

1.7 m + sq. ft.

of cold storage (existing or planned) within a 20-mile radius of The Port of Virginia’s terminals in Norfolk Harbor

160 +

Major warehousing and distribution establishments across the Commonwealth that can accommodate any type of product





What Virginia Brings to the Table

Illustrative Examples

Virginia’s food and beverage processing industry employs more than 44,000 people, accounts for over 18% of Virginia’s total manufacturing employment, and is the Commonwealth’s largest manufacturing sector. It is also one of the Commonwealth’s fastest-growing industries, with employment growth of 8.3% over the past five years.

Key Resources for Innovative Solutions

The Commonwealth’s university-based research activity encompasses a wide array of disciplines relevant to the food and beverage manufacturing sector, including agricultural sciences, natural resources and conservation, ocean and marine sciences, and industrial and manufacturing engineering.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research: Catalyzing Economic Development in Virginia

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) engages the resources of Virginia Tech, Danville Community College, Averett University, and other partners to grow innovation and stimulate economic opportunity. IALR proudly promotes sustainable solutions for enhanced agricultural production around the globe with the Plant Endophyte Research Center and access to a live bacteria library with over 2,000 endophytes.

Most recently, IALR has partnered with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech to launch

the Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center (CEAIC). The Center will leverage technology and research to accelerate advancements in the developing industry of indoor farming.

CEAIC research includes ways to grow crops with higher levels of essential nutrients and biological compounds that can reduce disease or lessen the effects of preexisting conditions, and the Institute is working with corporate partners like Canon Virginia, Inc., to develop technology that allows for constant photo imaging of crops to monitor growth patterns and other issues.

Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Danville

Blue Ridge Aquaculture Partners with Virginia Tech to Hook Major Markets

Blue Ridge Aquaculture established its flagship production facility in Henry County in 1993 and has become the world’s largest producer of tilapia using indoor recirculating aquaculture systems. Each year, Blue Ridge Aquaculture produces 4 million pounds of tilapia, and between 10,000 — 20,000 pounds of live tilapia are shipped daily.

Blue Ridge Aquaculture partnered with Virginia Tech to research growing white tilapia quickly without using hormones or antibiotics, on developing filters to convert ammonia from fish waste into nitrogen that can be safely released into the environment, and on building a system to remove solid fish waste to be composted. In 2017, as a result of these successful research projects with Virginia Tech, Blue Ridge Aquaculture established subsidiary Blue Ridge Aquafeed to produce quality controlled, superior feed for its tilapia production.

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — a Valuable Resource for Virginia’s Ecosystem

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) supports the state’s robust agricultural and forestry industries by helping producers and processors grow their business, build their brands, and locate the best markets for their products, both domestically and abroad.

■ Agriculture and Forestry Development: Provides specialized economic development assistance to support growth in Virginia’s food, forestry, and agriculture industry sectors

■ International Marketing: A robust marketing program that connects Virginia agricultural producers with export opportunities through a global network of trade representatives in Canada, China, Europe, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and Southeast Asia

■ Domestic Marketing: With a presence in every region of the state and decades of experience in the field, staff rely on their deep knowledge of the industry and long-standing relationships to assist producers

■ Promotions: Supports producers of specialty food and beverages through the nationally recognized Virginia’s Finest trademark program


In 2006, VDACS began working with the cattle producers behind Landcrafted Food to help market their natural, 100% grass-fed beef to new consumers. VDACS aided the company in exploring the development of their own processing facility so they could better control the quality and price of products they delivered. When the company decided on healthy, all-natural beef sticks as the best way forward, VDACS worked with them to design the facility and establish production protocols to ensure the safe, efficient production of their signature product.

Upon entering the beef stick market in 2016, Landcrafted partnered with the Virginia’s Finest program and began participating in trade shows across the U.S. as well as internationally. The company is well-positioned for growth in both domestic and international markets.

Blue Ridge Aquaculture in Henry County is the largest producer of tilapia in the world.
Best Schools for Food and Nutrition in the U.S.

Danone North America Benefits from Virginia’s Supply Chain Ecosystem

Danone North America produces brands like Activia, Dannon, Horizon Organic, and International Delight dairy products.

Danone North America’s Rockingham County facility sources and distributes locally, obtaining liquid cane sugar from local manufacturer Sugaright, a subsidiary of CSC Sugar. Virginia Dairy Farms, through the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, ensures that fluid milk — a staple in many Danone North America products — is sourced locally, as well. With its constant flow of in-demand products, Danone North America partners with Tekni-Plex (formerly Phoenix Packaging), located in Pulaski County, on packaging solutions, and utilizes another Rockingham-based company, InterChange Cold Storage, for the storage and distribution of finished products.

Grupo Phoenix Finds the Perfect Package in Virginia

Grupo Phoenix, a Tekni-Plex Consumer Products Business and global manufacturer of rigid packaging containers, first established the North American headquarters of its subsidiary, Phoenix Packaging Operations, LLC, in Pulaski County in 2010. Grupo Phoenix selected the Pulaski County Corporate Park for its ready-made sites, accessibility to nearby interstates, and available rail transportation.

Grupo Phoenix expanded in 2011 and 2012, and again in 2017. Grupo Phoenix’s latest production upgrades required proficiency in robotics, advanced handling and shipping, and various other 21st-century skills. The company was confident the New River Valley could keep pace with its evolving workforce needs, and cultivated a close relationship with local higher education institutions Virginia Tech and New River Community College. Grupo Phoenix depends on this partnership to supply a pipeline of talented graduates across the skills spectrum, including manufacturing, engineering, and information technology.

Danone North America, Rockingham County Tekni-Plex (formerly Phoenix Packaging Operations), Pulaski County

Grupo Phoenix evaluated various location options to build upon its future in the United States and chose Virginia due to a variety of factors, including a central location that allows us to be within 400 miles of 80% of the U.S. East Coast population; the ability to negotiate electricity at a competitive rate; access to rail transport, which reduces our logistics; a motivated labor force; support from the local colleges and universities to assist us with training specialized technical jobs; and the accessibility and unwavering support of the government to work together within the industry to create jobs.

ALBERTO PEISACH CEO & President, Grupo Phoenix, A Tekni-Plex Consumer Products Business
Our success as a business is integrally linked to the ecosystem in which we operate.
DAN POLAND Former Chief Supply Chain Officer, Danone North America

America’s Top State for Talent

New or expanding food and beverage facilities can draw from Virginia’s 44,000 existing food and beverage processing workers, as well as tens of thousands of others with complementary skills. Virginia’s higher ed institutions offer nearly 100 relevant academic programs producing over 15,000 certificates and degrees each year in areas ranging from food science to engineering to horticulture.

The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program — VEDP’s world-class customized talent acquisition and training solution — is available to new and expanding food and beverage processing companies to ensure they can quickly attract and onboard high-quality employees. The program is offered at no cost to qualified companies as an incentive for job creation. As an alternative, Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) grants are available for companies that prefer to manage their own recruitment and training.


Virginia has made for a great manufacturing location for the Hershey Company because it gives us access to the talent and labor supply that we need to operate a highly efficient, automated manufacturing facility.

VJIP has been tremendously impactful in helping us train and develop a whole new generation of operators, technicians, and brewers of the world’s greatest beers. VJIP assisted us in a very pivotal time in the history of our brewery. As a great deal of our team members transition into retirement, we are preparing a new generation to carry the mantle.

The Hershey Company, Augusta County JASON REIMAN Senior Vice President & Chief Supply Chain Officer, The Hershey Company BRANDON RANDALL Former Training Manager, Anheuser-Busch Anheuser-Busch, Williamsburg Stone Brewing Co., Richmond Nestlé USA, Arlington County Lidl U.S., Arlington County

Attractive, Stable, and Predictable Operating Environment

Virginia is frequently recognized for its favorable regulatory climate and is consistently rated one of the best-run states in the country. Virginia has earned an AAA bond rating for more than 80 consecutive years, longer than any other state, and benefits from low risk of natural hazards in every region. A right-to-work state with only 2.4% union membership (one of the lowest rates in the country), Virginia also offers low and stable business taxes, as well as competitive utility and construction costs.

Virginia is the northernmost right-to-work state along the I-95 Corridor.

One of the lowest in the nation, Virginia has had a stable 6.0% corporate income tax rate since 1972.

Industrial users paid an average rate of 6.24 cents per kilowatt-hour in the winter of 2022, well below the national average of 7.28 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Sound economic policy and prudent financial management has earned Virginia an AAA credit rating since 1938 — longer than any other state.


Robust Portfolio of Project-Ready Sites

With 300+ fully characterized development sites of 25 acres or larger, dozens of certified sites, and a growing inventory of spec buildings and virtual buildings, Virginia is constantly working to improve its portfolio of real estate options for food and beverage processing firms.

Size and certification status of sites across Virginia

12-18 mo. for project-ready sites to have utilities on-site and all infrastructure in place

40+ sites are certified as project-ready under the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program 12 of Virginia’s certified parks have graded pad sites available for construction

Red Sun Farms Grows High-Tech

in the Commonwealth

Headquartered in Michoacán, Mexico, Red Sun Farms (Agricola El Rosal) is a producer of high-quality hydroponic vegetables founded in 2001 as part of a family owned agro-industrial group. In 2013, the company invested $30 million in its first U.S. high-technology greenhouse production operation in Pulaski County.

Red Sun Farms erected state-of-the-art climate-controlled greenhouses on 45 acres of land in the New River Valley Commerce Park to grow quality greenhouse-grown, non-GMO, pesticide-free vegetables. With more than 100 employees, this 21st-century, environmentally safe greenhouse ships 200,000 pounds of tomatoes weekly from April to October. Red Sun Farms was the first tenant of the New River Valley Commerce Park.

Being able to provide quality, safe, and now, locally grown, greenhouse produce to our retail partners and consumers is a great accomplishment for our team.

Red Sun Farms, Pulaski County THIERRY LEGROS General, Red Sun Farms

Exceptional Quality of Life

With a competitive cost of living, a mild four-season climate, and a diverse range of natural and cultural attractions, Virginia offers an exceptional quality of life. Vibrant urban centers and picturesque small towns are alive with arts, culture, history, and stunning landscapes. Outdoor enthusiasts are within easy driving distance to the scenic shorelines of Virginia’s beaches and rivers as well as hiking trails and mountain vistas. For these reasons and many others, Forbes ranked Virginia No. 1 in the U.S. for Quality of Life.

Virginia Creeper Trail, Washington County Pleasure House Oysters, Virginia Beach Veritas Vineyards, Nelson County
Bold Rock Hard Cider, Nelson County Chatham Vineyards, Northampton County Great Falls Park, Fairfax County Downtown Richmond Skyline

Ten million gallons of water from Carvins Cove Reservoir in Roanoke County are filtered each day for business and residential customers of the Western Virginia Water Authority.




The Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals is committed to Virginia’s economic success, and connects industry-leading businesses to the resources they need to make relocations and expansions successful. From site selection, customized research, cost analysis, and coordination with public and private partners, to discretionary incentives and workforce solutions, VEDP’s services are tailored to companies’ unique requirements.

To learn more about VEDP’s expertise and resources, visit

August 2023
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