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More Than Just Pork and Peanuts

Food processing is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Virginia with a direct economic output of $25.2 billion. It accounts for approximately 14% of the total manufacturing employment in the Commonwealth with over 500 companies and 34,500 employees. Nearly 8,000 of those jobs are located in Hampton Roads.

Many are familiar with Smithfield hams and Planters peanuts, but the food and beverage industry in Hampton Roads is much larger than just those two household names. Take a minute to get to know some of our other key companies.

Every Lipton tea bag in North America is produced in Hampton Roads by Unilever’s 230 employee operation in Suffolk. Their local production facility manufactures 6 billion tea bags a year using tea imported from 25 countries. In 2013, Lipton announced a $96 million expansion to the facility.

Keurig Green Mountain, one of the nation’s leading coffee companies, opened a 300,000 square foot coffee production facility in Isle of Wight County in 2012. Employees are responsible for roasting, grinding and packaging a variety of coffee products, including the popular K-Cup. The project represented an investment of $180 million and the creation of 800 jobs.

The Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group produces high-end coffee, including a number of well-known international brands. The group established its American headquarters in Portsmouth and operates a large distribution center in Suffolk where they employ over 300 people and provide nationwide support for the company brands and private labels produced on behalf of leading distribution chains.

The region’s Anheuser-Busch InBev brewery produces more than 40 different beers and serves the markets of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia and the District of Columbia. In 2013, the leading global brewer made a capital investment of $10 million, bringing the facility’s total expansions in Williamsburg to $39 million since 2011.

High Liner Foods is the leading North American processor of value-added frozen seafood. In 2013, the company announced its plans to invest $6.6 million to expand its U.S. food service production in Newport News, upgrading its current facility and creating 57 new jobs. High Liner Foods acquired the operations of the former Icelandic USA in December 2011. The Hampton Roads plant now supports more than 700 employees.

This family-run company is the largest producer of fresh Atlantic salmon in North America and a leading supplier for supermarkets and restaurants across the States and Europe. In addition, the Suffolk-based vertically integrated seafood harvester has a fleet of 16 vessels across the globe that harvest more than 4,000 tons of scallops, shrimp, oysters and crab each year.

Best known for their jams and peanut butters, Smuckers acquired Suffolk’s Sara Lee coffee manufacturing facility in 2012 where they now process their Folgers brand. In 2014, they expanded the facility to accommodate additional coffee blends as well as the storage of raw material.

Just announced this month, Peet’s Coffee will be opening their first East Coast facility in Hampton Roads in early 2017. The 135-job, $58 million dollar investment secures Suffolk’s spot as the caffeine capital of the US. Read more on this exciting announcement here.

Located in Newport News, Marva Maid is a top supplier of milk products for the states of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, including being the sole supplier of milk and ice cream for the US military in Virginia, Washington D.C and even abroad. Their Hampton Roads facility processes more than 25 million pounds of milk per month.  

And that's just the beginning. Additional companies with a presences in Hampton Roads include Birdsong Peanuts, Kraft/Heinz Company, La Tienda Specialty Food and countless craft breweries. Having this blossoming industry is a strong asset for Hampton Roads' economy and one that is sure to continue growing in the coming years. 

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