Food Processing: Generating Growth for Good Eats

By the BF Staff
From the January/February 2016 Issue

The recent mega-mergers of major food companies like Kraft with Heinz and AB InBev with SABMiller are a sign consolidation of established companies but also an opportunity for new entrants to the market and cost-reduction throughout the industry. On a smaller scale, tangential acquisitions are proliferating like Enjoy Life Foods’ hook-up with Modelez, Hillshire Brands embrace of Tyson Foods and Earthbound Farms’ association with WhiteWave’s organic dairy business.

Not all of these acquisitions have worked out. ConAgra bought Ralcorp in 2012 for $6.8 billion, then sold it late last year to TreeHouse for $2.7 billion (the sale is pending). Industry analysts say ConAgra is on the verge of splitting into two companies, as big food processing firms in general rethink their business models. Consumers want more variety and niche products, forcing large companies to begin building their portfolios around smaller brands.

The metropolis of Los Angeles was the top food processing location in BF’s 2015 Metro Rankings Report, earning the number one ranking in our metro Food Processing Employment Leaders category, edging Greater Toronto’s burgeoning food processing hub and the traditional food processing crossroads of Chicago as king of the foodies.

Like its extensive geographic sprawl, Los Angeles County’s food processing reach stretches from salsa to sodas, from beer to bread, and includes hundreds of specialty processors that locate near each other to swap freshly prepared ingredients. The local industry benefits from a large concentration of suppliers, distributors, local agriculture and fresh ingredients, national distribution centers and a high level of experienced workers whose creativity brings great products to market successfully.

Access to wide varieties of fresh produce grown in abundance, locally and in nearby counties facilitates local clusters of established food processing businesses that are a source of ingredients and supplies. Fast and efficient transportation and logistics infrastructure also fuels the growth of this industry, as well as international markets (L.A. County is a leading international trade center). Overseas food brands often setup operations in L.A. County to serve the U.S. market. The availability of renewable energy is a big plus in L.A. as well a strong labor force and a huge, culturally diverse population of 10 million who are consumers of a wide variety of foods.

Second-place finisher Toronto’s food and beverage cluster is a driver of Ontario’s economy, with annual sales topping $20 billion, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture & Food. A recent labor force survey indicated there are 1,149 food and beverage manufacturing establishments employing over 51,000 people in the Greater Toronto region. Small businesses engaged in food and beverage manufacturing continue to account for a larger share of total establishments in the food and beverage sector. In 2013, small businesses with less than 100 employees accounted for 90.2 percent of total food and beverage establishments in Toronto, compared to 88.4 percent in 2012.

Within Ontario, Toronto dominates the provincial food industry with more than half of all the food processing in the province taking place within the Greater Toronto region. Almost 50 percent of Ontario’s employment in the food/beverage sector is in Greater Toronto.

Chicago, our third-ranked city for Food Processing Employment Leaders, has long been a center for the conversion of raw farm products into edible goods. Best known for its dominance in meatpacking, since the 1880s Chicago has also been home to leading firms in other areas of the food processing industry, including cereals, baked goods and candy.


The City of Brampton continues to have one of the strongest economies in Canada and remains on its path for growth by focusing its energies both on existing businesses, attracting new businesses and on becoming a global partner.

With a population of over 600,000, Brampton is the ninth largest city in Canada and the third largest in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Brampton is the second fastest growing city among the 50 largest cities in Canada, averaging growth of 4.2 percent or 18,000 new residents per year. Brampton’s median age is 34.7, the lowest among Canada’s largest cities. Its residents represent more than 209 different cultures and speak more than 89 languages that power our diverse labor force. Brampton’s most powerful asset is the raw energy of its human potential. Brampton is a people-powered economy.

Brampton’s young, educated and diverse labor force is matched by its ideal location. It is conveniently located adjacent to Canada’s largest airport, Toronto Pearson International, as well as home to CN’s Intermodal Railway Terminal, the largest intermodal railway terminal in Canada. Brampton is also at the center of Canada’s major transportation corridors and close to the U.S. border and as a result the city thrives on a fast and efficient movement of goods. The city is within a day’s drive of 158 million consumers, making it an ideal place to locate North American operations.

Brampton’s diverse economic base is comprised of over 8,600 businesses, in six key industry sectors. Seventy-two percent of Brampton’s economic base is comprised of service-producing companies and 28 per cent of goods-producing companies. Brampton has access to a large pool of highly skilled workers and to trained employees and graduates from first-rate post-secondary educational institutions. Brampton is home to 25 private career colleges and schools, with 19 post-secondary institutions within a one hour drive of the City.

Brampton is in the heart of the Ontario Food Cluster, the second largest food-processing cluster in North America. Ontario is home to more than half of Canada’s food-processing companies. Brampton takes pride in cultivating a dynamic and supportive business environment for its thriving food-processing sector, which is supported by industry-leading technology, top-quality products and a rich agricultural tradition, and encompasses a diverse range of operations and businesses. Brampton’s food-processing sector directly employs a total of 7,500 people and another 9,200 indirectly. Employment within this sector has seen has a 21 percent increase since 1999.

Brampton’s economic advantages, exceptional infrastructure and lifestyle attributes have attracted headquarters for some of Canada’s leading food brands like the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Bacardi Canada Inc., NAFTA Foods and Packaging Inc., Italpasta Ltd. and Maple Lodge Farms Ltd.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company’s 670,000-square-foot facility located in Brampton is one of the largest in North America, with over 800 employees. The location has three PET lines: Dasani bag-in-box line, producing syrup for national accounts; pre-mix line for the restaurant business; and one canning line. In 2015, the facility was expanded with a 7,223-square-foot addition in a $1.5-million investment.

Maple Lodge Farms represents one of Brampton’s success stories, combining rich farming tradition, state-of-the-art, in-house processing technology and retail outlets, and exports throughout North America.

NAFTA Foods & Packaging Inc. is the largest manufacturer of gingerbread house kits in North America. The company began in 1995 with a modest facility of 17,000 square feet. NAFTA’s new state-of-the-art, 160,000-square-foot facility houses three major manufacturing processes—cooking making, powder blending and custom packaging.

“Our state-of-the-art- headquarters located in Brampton has allowed us to actively market our top quality products throughout North America, making Brampton the gingerbread capital of North America,” says Dragan Markovic, President of NAFTA Foods and Packaging Inc.

Brampton’s expanding food and beverage sector has the ability to add exceptional value and convenience with its one-stop-shop for anyone in this sector. Food testing, processing and packaging facilities as well as transportation companies, packaging design, equipment, and specialized refrigerated storage are all located within the city.

Given its strategic location, competitive land values, supply of greenfield lands, and modern infrastructure, Brampton will continue to hold its place as a location of choice for residents and businesses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Brampton has received several global awards and designations, including:

  • Brampton has been included in the Top 10 Mid-Sized American Cities of the Future 2015/2016, overall winner for FDI strategy and included in the Top 10 in Mid-Sized American Cities for Connectivity and Business Friendliness.
  • Brampton has a strong economy and is well positioned for business investment. Its stable marketplace offers competitive energy prices, streamlined regulations and a low-risk investment climate. Awarded AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s for nine consecutive years.
  • First city in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and one of only 10 in North America to be designated an International Safe Community by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Experience what a people-powered economy can do for you. It all begins at


Harrison County in South Central Indiana boasts an outstanding transportation logistics network. its access to highways, water, railroad, and cargo airports has made this region of the United States an ideal location for new businesses to succeed. Before Interstate 64 connected Harrison County to the Midwest marketplace the communities in this rural South Central Indiana County depended on agriculture to drive the economy. Since the mid 1970s, the population of the county has been among the fastest growing in Indiana, an industrial base has been developed, and a regional retail center is emerging. The work ethic from the earlier days of farming remains, which aids in the success of many new business sectors. Today, the agricultural component continues here with a large concentration of food processing employment opportunities.

Tyson Foods operates a Poultry Processing facility in Corydon, the county seat of Harrison County. They employ nearly 600 people at the processing plant, a hatchery and Feed Production facility. In addition, the company contracts with dozens of local farmers that grow the chickens for Tyson. They also purchase grain from Harrison County farmers. This “value-added” scenario creates an economic boost to our entire region and especially in Harrison County.

The popcorn industry is significant in Indiana and Harrison County is no exception. Ramsey Popcorn, based in Ramsey, and Preferred Popcorn, located in Bradford both contract with local farmers to grow their popcorn. These companies then process and package it for sale to retail and wholesale markets. Ramsey produces the brand name “Cousin Willies” which has become a regional favorite in the microwave popcorn market and has recently released new mauve popcorn that sells under the “Cousin Willie’s Simply Better” label. The “Simply Better” popcorn is sold both in microwave and ready-to-eat varieties. Additionally, the company sells to Boy Scout Troops using the brand name “CampMasters.” The company also exports to several foreign countries by bulk packaging then retailers overseas sell it under their own label.

Preferred Popcorn is based in Nebraska and purchased a local company here and they primarily sell bulk corn to overseas destinations. Preferred often brings popcorn here from Nebraska via the railroad. The locally owned, short line railroad company provides facilities for them to unload the corn. They take it by truck to their facility in Bradford for processing and packaging then ship it by railroad to Mexico. Preferred Popcorn does have a retail product under their name and their company sells a significant volume to the movie theatre industry.

Community leaders are always thrilled to see the “exporting” of local products—and not only overseas exporting but anywhere outside of the local community. Tom Fields, from the Harrison County Economic Development Corp said “these food processing companies in Harrison County make a huge impact on our local economy for much more than just the people they employ. They actually grow products here like popcorn, other grains and chickens then these foods go through additional processing and are sold outside of Harrison County. That is why food processing is one of those business sectors we support with our business retention efforts and we provide resources to them to help them grow.”


Boar’s Head Brand is set to open their 150,000-square-foot premium delicatessen product manufacturing and research facility in early 2016. Their 64-acre site is located in the New Castle–Henry County Industrial Park just two miles north of Interstate 70.

food processing
Boar’s Head Provisions Co., Inc. at the groundbreaking ceremony in October 2014. The nearly completed manufacturing facility is located in New Castle’s Henry County Industrial Park, two miles off of I-70. (Source: Hoosier Energy)

The New Castle–Henry County Industrial Park is well positioned for additional investment from other food processors. The Park offers an expandable 50,000-square-foot shell building and land sites ranging from 30 to 65 acres and is zoned light industrial.

Robust and cost effective utility infrastructure is a location advantage. It is served by the New Castle municipal water and sewer utility. The water utility has available pumping capacity of nearly 5 million gallons per day. During the Boar’s Head site selection process, community leaders purposefully included a tour of the wastewater treatment plant. Electric service is provided by the Henry County REMC through a 20 MVA substation with dual feed available. Locally owned New Lisbon Telephone Company and Nine Star Connect both offer Internet and telephone communication services.

Boar’s Head joins forty plus other food processing companies located in east central Indiana. Other representative companies include Red Gold, Sugar Creek Packing and Nestlé. Nearly 4,000 people are employed in food manufacturing in the east central Indiana region.

Access to top talent and the ability to assure a future pipeline of talent is critical to the success of a region. Henry County has a campus of Ivy Tech Community College and is also home to the New Castle Career Center, a high school program offering seventeen programs, which welcome business input in the curriculum.

Henry County is on the way to becoming a certified Work Ready community through ACT. According to ACT, the program “empowers states, regions and counties with data, process and tools that drive economic growth. Participants are leveraging the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) to measure and close the skills gap—and building common frameworks that link, align and match their workforce development efforts.”

The NCRC is obtained by taking three Work Keys assessments: Applied Math, Reading for Information and Locating Information. Assessments are given at no charge through the local Work One office. Work One is an important partner in this effort and they also offer skills remediation services and an array of business services to existing and new companies.

New Castle-Henry County will partner with the state of Indiana to create a responsive and efficient incentive package. Local incentives include real and personal property tax abatement and tax increment financing. To learn more about locating in New Castle Henry County Indiana, visit or call Corey Murphy at (765) 521-7402.


Southern Indiana provides a supply chain that takes turkeys from poult (a turkey hatchling) to the dinner table. In fact, when you sit down to a delicious turkey dinner or enjoy a delicatessen turkey sandwich there is a good chance it was supplied by an Indiana business.

food processing
Farbest Foods Inc. 227,000-square-foot processing plant located in the Vincennes, IN Industrial Park. (Source: Hoosier Energy)

The path to the table begins with a collaborative effort between area businesses to ensure quality. Quality assurance is priority for one of the largest turkey producers in the United States, the Indiana-based Farbest Foods Inc. December 2013 was a time of innovative expansions for Farbest, headquartered in Huntingburg, Indiana, with the opening of a 227,000-square-foot turkey processing plant in the Vincennes, IN Industrial Park. Farbest invested in excess of $80 million for the expansion, according to the Knox County Development Corporation (KCDC) and the facility employs 370 workers per shift at full production. Farbest’s Vincennes facility currently runs one shift but the nearby Huntingburg, Indiana facility runs two full production shifts.

Ted Seger, president of Farbest, said prior to the opening, “We look forward to becoming a big part of an era of economic growth in Knox County and Southwestern Indiana.” Support for economic growth is a key variable for Hoosier Energy and its member distribution systems.

Support from the City of Vincennes and Knox County with the assistance of (KCDC) were critical in Farbest’s expansion in Vincennes. Kent Utt, Executive Director of the KCDC, cites several partnerships and key factors that allowed the community to respond to the company’s needs. Vincennes University provided training facilities to develop the workforce and the Utility Service Board provided adequate infrastructure that increased water capacity which is needed for processing. Kent Utt identifies Farbest Foods Inc. as a “local Southern Indiana business that is great at giving back to the community.” Utt, who was instrumental in coordinating local involvement, also states that the “company provided an overall great capital investment for our area which has had a tremendous impact on the local community, it’s been a good win all around.”

The Farbest Vincennes facility fueled additional development by prompting area farmers and businesses to become contract growers ensuring quality locally raised poultry. Solar Sources Agribusiness branched into the poultry industry by constructing multiple turkey grow-out facilities on reclaimed coal mining property in Southern Vigo and Clay Counties. The growing facilities raise turkeys from poult to tom to ship to the Vincennes processing plant. Forging strong partnerships and utilizing local resources is vital when assuring quality in the food processing industry.

Rounding out the local supply chain is the renowned premium meats company, Boar’s Head Provisions Co. Inc., with a new manufacturing facility in New Castle, Indiana. The nearly finished 150,000-square-foot processing and research facility is located in New Castle’s Henry County Industrial Park two miles off of I-70. Corey Murphy, Executive Director of New Castle/Henry County Economic Development Corporation attributes the project to excellent collaboration among city and county officials, “we had a great response from our partners,” Murphy explains, “this was a fast moving project. Boar’s Head’s first visit was in April 2014 and an efficient process.”

When Boar’s Head, which produces seventeen flavors of delicatessen turkey, begins operation at the new facility around 200 jobs will be created. According to Murphy, Boar’s Head chose the 66-acre site with future expansion in mind, which is great for the company and the community.

Strong partnerships, collaborations, skilled workforce, and quality local resources are what knit together our area businesses. Hoosier Energy member distribution systems continuously capitalize on this edge creating an atmosphere of growth and expansion. Southern Indiana is excited to provide a complete supply chain and looks forward to evolving in the food processing industry.


“Access to global markets and a proven agricultural network plus attractive capital, tax incentives and skilled workers are why we said YES to Cumberland County, New Jersey,” Frank Tedesco, President of the Safeway Group explains.

These attractions and more are the reasons, Tedesco says, fellow decision makers of General Mills/Progresso, Perdue, Hanover Foods, Rich’s Products and White Wave have said YES to Cumberland. It’s also why companies here supply major players like Campbell’s Soup, McDonald’s, Kroger, Ahold/Delhaize and Kraft Heinz. Tedesco’s Safeway is one of those suppliers having served the nation’s food supply chain for more than 35 years.

Cumberland’s enticing incentives keep growing. GROW New Jersey, a financing program that rewards companies for job creation and retention, is benefitting Allied Specialty Foods, a restaurant and retail meat supplier with nearly $14 million in tax credits. The financing is enabling this company to expand into a 76,500 square-foot facility.

Paul Litten, President and Chief Operating Officer for Allied Foods admits, “We were initially considering other locations within and outside the state.” Litten adds, “However, these tax breaks and incentives convinced us to stay in Cumberland County.”

“Federal, state and local programs offer not only tax abatements and low-interest loans, but also sales tax exemptions for construction, equipment and supply purchases,” James Watson, Director of Economic Development for the Cumberland County Improvement Authority reports. GROW New Jersey money is even available to companies with as few as 10 employees. “Imagine receiving nearly $1 million over a ten year period for hiring just 10 new employees,” Watson says.

A host of incentives make it attractive for businesses to locate and expand here including:

  • GROW New Jersey Program – corporate business grants and tax credits for job creation and retention.
  • New Jersey Economic Development and Growth Program – low interest loans plus value-added tax exempt bond and gap financing.
  • Brownfield Cleanup Funding – for developers investing in a redevelopment or re-purposed site.
  • Federal Public Infrastructure Funding – extends public infrastructure to a development site or provides public improvements for a project with qualifying job creation.
  • Urban Enterprise Zones – tax credits, PILOT or Payment In Lieu of Taxes agreements and low interest rates to reduce development costs.
  • Foreign Trade Zone status at the County’s airport – significant cost savings for manufacturers through tax exemptions and tariff reductions.

More than $80 million in investments have paved the way for a career and technical education high school along with a new Center for Workforce and Economic Development. This workforce training complex is located on the campus of the County’s nationally ranked community college. The model is being hailed regionally as an “economic development triangle” to ensure the County’s ability to further develop the quality workforce companies demand.

Supporting this objective are partnership programs for company leaders to ensure they have skilled labor required for their operation. These customized workforce solutions include Job Site and Technical Skills Training Grants, Federal Employment Tax Credits and Free Recruitment/Screening Services.

Tedesco says he used these programs to successfully hire 200 additional full-time employees for his company’s $3 million expansion. “There’s an abundance of people here who were able to quickly adapt to our work culture.”

Innovative facilities and programs like the Rutgers Food Innovation Center, the world’s only food-based soft landings program which partners with ample nations around the globe, ensures businesses flourish in Cumberland County.

RFIC’s 23,000-square-foot facility offers food entrepreneurs as well as established domestic and international food corporations an FDA- and USDA-inspected shared-use processing facility in which products can be produced for sale to the public; training pertaining to business creation, workforce development, marketing, food safety and best industry practices; and customized consulting for product development, market research, product analysis, packaging and commercialization.

The Cumberland County Improvement Authority is the county’s multi-purpose financing, development and project management agency. The CCIA’s most recent $100 million development efforts are expected to spur $242 million in direct and indirect impacts to the County.

“Yes is one of the strongest, boldest and most confident words in the English language and Cumberland YES – Your Economic Solution best reflects the positive attitude our Cumberland County team brings to your company’s development needs,” Executive Director Gerard Velazquez explains about the CCIA’s current campaign. According to Velazquez, the Authority’s track record demonstrates their proven ability to say “YES” to their business partners who consequently succeed. He further explains, “Through national and international strategic alliances, we continue to secure funding for development needs such as job training, infrastructure, equipment and to identify suitable sites where companies can remain viable and expand their operations.”

For more information about making Cumberland Your Economic Solution, contact James Watson at (856) 825-3700, ext. 1233 or or visit


Smart companies search for smart locations to build or expand their business with a workforce comprised of smart people. With the steady economic growth taking place in southwest Missouri, many new businesses are astounded at the innovative, sustainable, and trend-setting developments underway throughout the region, many of which stand to rival even the nation’s most notable urban smart cities.

Who would have thought that this rural tourism region would meet all components of a fully comprehensive smart city model and be among the first of “Small-Town America” communities to pursue the prestigious “Smart City” title? Look no further than Taney County, MO nestled in the midst of three recreational lakes spanning the scenic Ozark Mountains. Home to Branson’s $3.2-billion economy, Taney County provides a quality of life that is second to none with its vast number of family-friendly attractions including world-class entertainment, amusement and water parks, hiking and water sports activities often highlighted in outdoor and recreational media.

Taney County is not only a smart place to do business, but a smart choice for sports and recreation amidst an already established tourism-driven economy. For example, the county’s recognition as a premier—and often preferred—sports and recreation destination could be attributed to outdoor enthusiast and businessman John L. Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, whose flag waves proudly over Table Rock Lake at Big Cedar Lodge & Conference resort, and atop the renowned Top of the Rock and Buffalo Ridge golf courses where the PGA Legends of Golf tournament is held in April for three years running ( Or perhaps it’s because youth baseball has found its Midwest home with the development of the new Ballparks of America tournament campus. More like a community than a complex, first pitch is slated for June 2016 as it announces “Game On!” at this multi-faceted facility. This project sets a high bar for youth baseball tournament facilities where teams and their families will experience travel ball like never before: 200 of the nation’s leading 10U-13U teams will compete across five famous replica MLB stadiums each year, and teams will stay together in state-of-the-art team suites patterned after Major League clubhouses with modern amenities. No better free-time options exist in any other tournament town than those which Branson has to offer—a variety of award-winning Branson attractions, entertainment venues and world-famous amusement and water parks. See for yourself at and then get connected to to find even more sports offerings like professional boxing, motorcycle rallies, basketball—did we mention the Harlem Globetrotters found a new southwest Missouri home, regularly showcasing their act at Silver Dollar City during the summer? Just ask The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and Sam Champion—they saw for themselves while broadcasting live from the famous Branson Landing retail and dining district last June.

So what else is smart about what and how we do things around here? Let’s start with the acknowledgement that infrastructure breeds development. Consider the Spirit of 76 Renovation Project, a “complete streets” project where more than $30-million of planned private development was announced before a shovel was even turned to improve infrastructure along the famed 5-mile stretch of Highway 76, endearingly recognized by locals and visitors as “The Strip.” Area thought leaders—engineers, planners, city officials and economic developers—all came together to identify ways to meet the needs, preferences and perceptions of residents, visitors and business owners to create a more efficient, productive and sustainable economy. They found that by incorporating new technologies like real-time traffic reporting, wayfinding portals, fiber connectivity and alternative transit methods into an infrastructure and mobility improvement project, they had unveiled the prospect of the first rural community to meet all eight components of the traditional smart city model, an achievement that some of the more advanced smart city urban centers have yet to reach. Smart businesses are finding their way into smart cities because of the business benefits and incentives associated with connected communities, energy management, sustainability and interaction between citizens, governments, healthcare networks and educational institutions. One shouldn’t underestimate the big vision and even bigger developments taking place in Taney County.

The Spirit of 76 Renovation Project is driven by a master plan that inspires individuals and families to enjoy the Strip as though it were a five-mile linear theme park complete with safe, pedestrian walkways, interactive experience stations and promenades that reflect business themes and motifs along the way to enhance the user experience. Stakeholder collaboration is nothing less than remarkable as businesses along the corridor have given right-of-ways and easements that not only enhance pedestrian safety, mobility and connectivity, but also allows for integrated underground duct banks where existing overhead utilities are being placed alongside improved water/sewer, gas and fiber lines. The master plan and more information about the project is found at, and Phase 1A development is already underway along the first mile and a half.

Several key sustainability and natural resource preservation factors also enter into the equation making Taney County a “Green Destination.” This region is also known for its air quality, clean water systems, national forests, caves and abundant wildlife habitat. In an effort to ensure a green ecosystem, city planners and developers have worked to develop a framework to utilize natural resources and new technologies that actually preserve and sustain the environment. One such future-driven component is Taney County’s new alternative waste treatment methodology that eliminates land application of Class B sludge by converting them to a Class A biosolid that is pathogen-free and garden-ready. An additional benefit is that the Cooper Creek treatment facility has contributed significantly to the reduction of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions as the facility uses natural resources to convert 700 pounds per day of Class B biosolids in its first year of operation, extending infrastructure capacity out 50 years.

Taney County has experienced a doubling of newly announced and active projects in the pipeline over the last 12 months. Perhaps the competitive cost of doing business, low taxes and a central U.S. transportation hub with complex freight, rail and air options influence the steady stream of new business expansion. Then again, Taney County’s award-winning healthcare, exceptional schools and more than a dozen local advanced educational opportunities appeal to the workforce and deliver employer peace-of-mind. Quality of life in this safe, accessible, family focused community is second to none. You just have to see and experience Taney County for yourself and can start by visiting