Danone North America

Danone North America, Rockingham County

Food & Beverage Processing in Virginia

More than 150 food and beverage processing companies chose to locate or expand in Virginia over the last decade creating over 7,300 new jobs and making capital investments totaling $2.3 billion. They were attracted to Virginia by its unique combination of advantages and resources for food and beverage processing. 

Virginia’s food and beverage processing industry employs more than 42,000 people, accounts for over 17% of Virginia’s total manufacturing employment, and is the Commonwealth’s second-largest manufacturing sector. It is also one of the Commonwealth’s fastest growing industries. Employment in this sector has grown by 15% over the past five years, the second-highest rate in the Southeast.

A Large and Diverse Food and Beverage Processing Ecosystem

With the second largest food-and-beverage processing sector in the Southeast, Virginia offers a diverse ecosystem of partners and suppliers for food and beverage processors, including dozens of packagers and bottlers, 100+ transporters and warehouses, (including expansive cold storage options), and 43,000 farms.

50+

Major packaging and bottling establishments in the Commonwealth 

1.7M+ sq. ft.

Of cold storage (existing or planned) within a 20-mile radius of the port’s Hampton Roads terminals 

160+

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

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Market Access Map

An Optimal Location to Serve East Coast Markets

Located at the center of the USA’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.

$370B+

Food and beverage store sales within a one-day drive of Virginia 

2nd Largest

Food-and-beverage processing sector in the Southeast

119,000+

Food and beverage stores within a one-day drive of Virginia

Advanced Logistics Infrastructure to Enable Global Connectivity

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

2nd Densest Roadway and Railway Networks

in the Southeast

3,000 mi. of Rail

(anchored by Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern) 

16 Commercial Airports Serve Virginia

with flights to 100 domestic and 50 international destinations

Carvins Cove

Carvins Cove Reservoir

Water Availability

According to the Virginia Water Resources Plan published by the Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia is considered to be a “water-rich” state. During years with normal to high precipitation, Virginia’s net water withdrawal from surface water in non-tidal streams is less than 5% of the median daily streamflow.

For companies with processes that require access to water, regions within Virginia with a notable abundance of water resources include:

  • Lynchburg region: more than 25 million gallons per day excess water capacity.
  • New River Valley region: average daily flow of 1.7-billion gallons and of very reliable, clean water from the New River. Adequate infrastructure is also in place to tap into this natural resource and to process waste water.
  • Roanoke region: current demand is only 43% of available daily supply.

Higher Education Resources Support the Food and Beverage Industry in Virginia

Virginia is home to numerous universities and research centers working on cutting-edge innovations that are advancing the food and beverage manufacturing industry. These institutions have a strong track record of closely cooperating with industry partners.

Virginia Tech - Department of Food Science & Technology

Named the No.2 College for Food Science and Nutrition in the U.S. by Niche, the department’s focus areas include food microbiology and safety, food processing and packaging, food chemistry, sensory analysis, food quality, and fermented foods and beverages.

Facilities and research areas include the Food Innovations Program, pilot plants, laboratories, support facilities, and a sensory/flavor testing suite. As a resource for food companies that are start-ups or evaluating new equipment, processes, and product lines, the pilot plants feature flexible, high-bay equipment areas for use in the development of scale-up operations and process/packaging engineering systems.

Virginia State University (VSU) College of Agriculture

VSU’s College of Agriculture has a number of resources that are useful to the industry. The Food Processing and Engineering Lab focuses on topics related to engineering for food nutrition, quality, and safety, and the application of nanotechnology in foods.

The Food Safety and Microbiology Laboratory focuses on improving the safety and quality of our country’s food supply through research that examines microbial ecology and routes of contamination.

The Agricultural Research Station uses cutting-edge scientific techniques and state-of-the-art facilities to find solutions to diverse issues in agriculture and food production. One recent application has been to partner with Sabra Dipping Company, which operates the largest hummus manufacturing facility in the world in Chesterfield County, to prove the feasibility of growing chickpeas that are ideally suited to Virginia’s climate.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

VIMS is currently among the largest marine research and education centers in the United States. VIMS researchers help guide and steer aquaculture toward maximum healthy yields and minimal environmental impact. Field and laboratory research at VIMS is key to the recent surge in oyster aquaculture in Virginia. Researchers also study all aspects of the blue crab, with a focus on conservation and a sustainable fishery.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR)

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

A Top State for Business

Virginia is frequently recognized for its favorable regulatory climate, and it is consistently rated one of the best-run states in the country. Virginia has earned a triple-A bond rating for more than 80 consecutive years, longer than any other state, and it benefits from low risk of natural hazards in every region. A right-to-work state with only 2.5% 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 1 top state for business
Virginia 1 best quality of life
Virginia is 3 best state for business regulatory environment
The Veil

The Veil Brewing Co., Richmond

An Attractive, Stable, and Predictable Operating Environment

  • 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 corporate income tax of 6.0% since 1972. 
  • Industrial electricity users paid an average rate of 6.39 cents/kWh in the summer of 2019, compared to the national average of 6.91 cents/kWh. 
  • Sound economic policy and prudent financial management has earned Virginia a AAA credit rating since 1938— longer than any other state. 
  • 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. 
  • The Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID) is a discretionary incentive designed to grow Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries. AFID grants are made to localities at the discretion of the Governor with the expectation that the grant will be critical to the success of a project that will result in the creation of new jobs and investment from companies that add value to Virginia-grown agriculture and forestry products.
  • With 466 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. 

The World’s No.1 Hummus Company Innovates in Virginia

In 2008, Sabra Dipping announced its decision to establish a state-of-the-art production facility in Chesterfield County to produce a wide range of refrigerated dips and spreads. In 2012, Sabra announced an expansion and major enhancement to its facility—the incorporation of the company’s official Center of Excellence and R&D test kitchen. The Center of Excellence features a state-of-the-art culinary center, research laboratory, ideation space, a pilot plant, and hands-on research modules. It houses experts in culinary arts, food technology, and nutrition who conduct research on chickpeas, fruits, and vegetables in conjunction with local Virginia universities. 

Danone North America Benefits from Virginia’s Supply Chain Ecosystem 

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

Danone North America's Rockingham, VA 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 DanoneWaves products—is sourced locally, as well. With its constant flow of in-demand products, DanoneWave partners with 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.

Red Sun Farms Grows High-Tech in Virginia

Headquartered in Michoacán, Mexico, Red Sun Farms (Agricola El Rosal) is a producer of high-quality hydroponic vegetables.

In 2013, 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.

Aquaculture & Seafood

Virginia is the fourth largest producer of seafood in the country by metric tons landed. Virginia’s seafood commodities total over 360 million pounds landed each year, with a value of more than $178 million.

Top commodities by value include oysters, scallops, menhaden, clams, crabs, and striped bass. Virginia is first in the U.S. for hard clam production, and first on the East Coast for Eastern oyster production.

VER Q1 2020 Cover F&B

Virginia Economic Review

In this issue of Virginia Economic Review, we explore why leading food and beverage processors have chosen to operate alongside Virginia’s productive farms and world-class restaurants, including the supply-chain advantages that place the Commonwealth in a strong position to make and distribute those products. We also highlight the explosion of the craft beverage industry in Virginia over the past decade, as well as Virginia’s contributions to the seafood and coffee and tea industries.