Locations For The Food Processing Industry: The Food Puzzle

It takes a variety of participants and processes to make the food industry a whole industry. And so far the pieces together seem to indicate a year of success.

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2017 Issue

Midway through 2017 the Food Processing industry already has seen a number of expansions and relocations along with new facility construction. And if the first half of the year is any indication, many more announcements are on the horizon.

Founded in 2012, Blue Apron, a meal kit delivery company, said in February that it plans to bring more than 2,000 jobs to New Jersey with the construction and opening of a 495,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Linden. The company also plans to build a fulfillment center in Fairfield, CA in 2018.

The same month, agricultural startup, AppHarvest, said it would build a $50 million high-tech greenhouse in Pikeville, KY. The company will create 140 full-time jobs at a surface coal mine site repurposed for new industry. Targeted for a 60-acre site, AppHarvest’s 2 million square-foot greenhouse will rank among the world’s largest where it will grow fresh vegetables year round for consumption on the U.S. East Coast and Midwest.

In March, HARIBO, the German-based confectionary company that originated the gummy bear, said it will open its first North American candy factory in Pleasant Prairie, WI. At $242 million, the project is one of the largest investments of new operations by an overseas company in Wisconsin history. It is expected to be completed in 2020 and employ 400 people.

Another Wisconsin project was announced two months later when sausage company, Johnsonville, announced plans to expand its global corporate headquarters in Sheboygan Falls, WI. Construction on the 49,000-square-foot addition, which will feature a member development center, additional workstations and an expanded fitness center, is underway and expected to be completed by the end of the year. The company plans to add nearly 100 new jobs in the state over the next five years.

Niagara Bottling, LLC, the nation’s largest, private-label bottled water supplier, announced in June that it would establish a 450,000-square-foot highly automated manufacturing and bottling operation in Mesa, AZ. The company will invest $76 million in the facility and create up to 55 new jobs. Located in the Elliot Road Technology Corridor, production is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018.

From the growth of food, to food delivery, to candy creation, to water bottling, there are a number of pieces to the food processing puzzle. Read ahead to learn about other locations that help put the industry together.


The Buckeye State takes food and agribusiness seriously. Across Ohio, there are more than 13 million acres of farmland and over 10 million acres used to grow principle crops of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. But the focus is much broader than growing and raising healthy food. The Dayton Region hosts many businesses along the vast supply chain that brings fresh food to restaurants, grocery stores and family tables each day.

food processing
Golden Fresh Farms provides seeding, harvesting, packing and shipping of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers in state-of-the-art, high-tech greenhouses. (Dayton Development Coalition)

It takes many helping hands to bring good food to families across the nation. In Ohio, over 100,000 employees work in the food and agribusiness sector. From the farmlands and research and development, to retailers, food service and customers, you will find regional, national and global brands that call Ohio home. And if it can be planted, grown or produced in the Dayton Region, a robust logistics network guarantees it can be delivered anywhere in the world.

Global, multibillion-dollar businesses and family farms are all part of food processing and agribusiness in the Dayton Region. With more than 160 firms and nearly 10,000 workers, it offers many opportunities for your business to be successful, just like:

King’s Command Foods, LLC. Since the early 1950s, industry leader King’s Command Foods has delivered quality, portion controlled, precooked and ready-to-cook meat products to the food service and retail industry. From savory beef to succulent chicken, the company strives to achieve excellence in every bite.

Abbott Laboratories. Abbot Laboratories is committed to helping customers live the best lives possible through good health. That includes nourishing bodies at every stage of life. The company works to discover new ways to make life better by creating breakthrough products (e.g., Ensure) so customers can live healthier lives full of unlimited possibilities. Abbot’s 250,000-square-foot Tipp City facility opened in 2014.

ConAgra Brands. ConAgra Brands is an $8 billion global company that has a rich heritage of making great food. They offer a menu of iconic and emerging contemporary foods for every occasion and appetite, such as Healthy Choice, Slim Jim, Hunt’s, P. F. Chang’s, Marie Callender’s and Bertolli. ConAgra Brands also is committed to food safety with 100 percent of their fulltime production facilities continuously certified by Global Food Safety Initiative standards.

Classic Carriers, Inc. Classic Carriers, Inc. is a full service, asset-based refrigerated carrier that reaches the 48 contiguous states. Starting at their warehouse, Classic Carriers, Inc. has the ability to handle distribution services for either short- or long-term storage, delivering goods with just-in-time capabilities. As a logistics industry leader, they offer full service with the flexibility required to adapt to the needs of customers to provide the greatest value possible.

Golden Fresh Farms. Family-owned since 1954, Golden Fresh Farms’ fully integrated operations provides seeding, harvesting, packing and shipping of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers in state-of-the-art, high tech greenhouses. These growing environments allow Golden Fresh Farms to provide higher crop yields compared to traditional, field-grown products. Their primary customers include nationwide grocers and other vendors, and the greenhouse environment greatly reduces the carbon footprint and “food miles” produce travels to reach consumers. The company’s 100-acre greenhouse already is producing fresh tomatoes.

Bob Evans Farms, LLC. Since 1946, Bob Evans has delighted customers with farm fresh goodness in every hot, home-style meal served in their restaurants and grocery products. In addition to owning and operating more than 500 full-service Bob Evans restaurants, they are a leading producer and distributor of sausage and bacon products, as well as complementary refrigerated and frozen convenience foods, selling under the Bob Evans, Owens and the Country Creek brand names. The company’s 26,000-square-foot distribution center in Springfield ships their products across the country.

Fueling Your Business Success

From food processing and agribusiness to healthcare programs and aerospace medicine, the Dayton Region is the right fit for your business. The Accelerant program offers financial incentives while their dedicated team and industry volunteers provide mentors to help guide you. Most important of all, they have a deep passion for what the Dayton Region offers you as you make your business goals and dreams a reality.

Let the Dayton Region help you discover the difference their people and economic portfolio can provide. You will find what others already know…it’s Great in Dayton.

For more information visit the Dayton Development Coalition at www.daytonregion.com, or contact the team at (800) 241-2469 or contact@daytonregion.com.


Indiana’s agribusiness is as diverse as the farms, growers, suppliers and food processors that make up the industry. While known across the nation for Indiana sweet corn, the state is a national leader in a sweeter and more unique crop—melons.

Indiana ranks No. 4 in the nation in cantaloupe production and No. 6 in watermelons. Leading the state in overall cropland production and currently ranked as the No. 1 producer of melons is Knox County, Indiana. Located on the Indiana and Illinois border along the Wabash River between Evansville and Terre Haute, the county is home to ample farmland and a pioneer spirit dating back to the Louisiana Purchase.

The county boasts nearly 7,000 acres in total fruit and vegetable production representing $237 million in crop revenue, with 600 acres dedicated to cantaloupes and 3,400 acres of watermelons.

Knox County Development Corporation Director Kent Utt says the location ideally suits melon production. “More than anything, our area has great growing conditions; the sandy soil is ideal for cultivating crops and we also have great access to water, which makes irrigation easy and affordable,” he said.

Powering the melon producers is WIN Energy REMC, one of the 18 electric distribution cooperatives of the generation and transmission cooperative, Hoosier Energy. WIN Energy and Hoosier Energy are seeing producers place increased significance on assurance of a consistent, reliable source of energy to support the technological advances necessary as the industry advances.

Utt said the equipment and facilities used to produce melons has changed dramatically over the past several decades.

“Food safety regulations are now heavily influencing the industry and producers have incorporated high-tech processing and storage plants for the melons,” said Utt. “Once the melons are harvested they must be kept at the right temperature to extend their freshness and storage time, and must be properly processed and labeled to prepare them for distribution to local, regional and national retailers.”

Automated irrigation systems also increase energy demands and are crucial for the most robust and healthy crop production. Another technological advancement in melon production, and most every crop production, is the use of GPS-based applications in field mapping, soil sampling, tractor guidance, crop scouting, variable rate applications and yield mapping.

“We understand how critical it is for the melon farmers that we serve to have reliable electric service to operate their irrigation systems in order to maximize crop production,” said WIN Energy REMC CEO, Tom Gregory. “We are committed to work together with our members who have large motor loads, such as irrigations, to help control load during peak demand times in order to keep costs low. By working together we can make a difference and keep electricity affordable for our local farmers.”

Melon Acres, a lead producer in Knox County, includes more than 1,000 acres of cantaloupes, watermelon, sweet corn, cucumbers and asparagus, and a community supported agriculture program.

The family-owned farm uses advanced technology for its plant disease management program. Using a system called MELCAST, developed by researchers at Purdue University, their farmers use weather satellites to determine the need for protectant fungicide sprays in melon crops.

The increased reliance on GPS is heightening awareness of the need to expand rural broadband coverage in rural areas like Knox County through power lines.

Hoosier Energy and its REMCs work diligently to support a wide range of agribusinesses across the southern half of the state, which spans central and southern Indiana and supplies electricity to 300,000 meters.

Melon production is booming in Knox County, and Utt says that’s good for the local and state economy.

Indeed, the vitality of agribusiness is strong across the state. According to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, agriculture contributes $31 billion to the state of Indiana’s GDP annually, supports 107,500 jobs and puts the state 10th in the nation for products sold from its approximately 60,000 farms and 14.7 million acres of cultivated cropland. In addition to its national rankings in melon production, the state is No. 1 in duck production, No. 2 in popcorn and tomatoes and No. 3 in egg production.

Utt said, “Indiana is known for the work ethic of its people and that is why we will continue to see the state as a leader in melon production as well as across all sectors of agribusiness.


When management at Hirzel Canning, one of the leading food canning businesses in the midwest, decided they needed additional warehouse space, they went with a team that had been successful in the past. The project called for 87,500 square feet of warehouse space to be built in Ottawa, OH. And, this time the team came up with a winner. The new Hirzel warehouse was named the 2016 Best of Distribution Category winner for Varco Pruden’s National Hall of Fame competition.

Designed by The Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green, OH, the warehouse featured several elements that optimize energy efficiency while minimizing operating cost, as well as long-term maintenance cost. The structural design of the 350-foot wide by 250 feet long facility used all steel framing from Varco Pruden. The footprint was based on a 50-foot by 50-foot grid to optimize open interior floor space and minimize the number of interior columns.

Secondary support for the roofing system used Varco Pruden’s patented WideBay trussed purlin system. This system, with its lighter weight and better strength, offers advantages over typical bar joist framing. WideBay requires fewer members to support the roof. Further, this system installs faster without any need for field welding.

Improving the energy efficient performance of the new warehouse was a key consideration for the project. Reducing energy demand by minimizing electrical lighting during daylight hours was accomplished with the installation of VP’s patented PrisMAX daylighting system. PrisMAX’s sturdy modified acrylic lenses allow 70 percent light transmission and 100 percent light diffusion for full, balanced natural lighting without hot spots.

To cover their building investment, Hirzel used a VP SSR roof system. This all steel, standing seam roof meets the most demanding building codes and is backed by long-term warranties for weather tightness and finish performance. Using a patented seamed-in clip, the SSR roof allows for thermal expansion and contraction throughout the day.

The new Hirzel warehouse is the third building project provided by VP and Rudolph/Libbe. When commenting about this award winning structure, company spokesman, Karl Hirzel said, “This is our third VP Building with Rudolph/Libbe. Our experience with Varco Pruden has been excellent and we highly recommend their products.”

A division of BlueScope Buildings North America based in Memphis, Tennessee, Varco Pruden Buildings provides steel building systems for low-rise commercial and industrial applications. The company markets its products through a network of about 1,000 authorized builders in North America. VP is a member of the MBMA, CSSBI and the USGBC.

Varco Pruden is accredited by the International Accreditation Service and the Canadian Welding Bureau. The company offers products approved by the Cool Roof Rating Council, the State of Florida and Miami-Dade and for wind uplift roof assemblies by Factory Mutual and Underwriters Laboratories.

Varco Pruden has provided custom engineered, steel framed building systems for general contractors for more than 60 years. Through the years, VP Buildings has earned a reputation for innovation, quality and affordability. In the 1980s, engineers at VP created a design and estimating tool called VP Command, one of the most sophisticated—yet easy to use—interactive web-based programs specifically for the builder. VP Builders can design a building for a customer, make changes and produce drawings, checklists and export data for use with 3-D modeling software. Visit www.vp.com to view examples of building projects.


Selecting the right location is a key component of any strategic business model. Companies have to look for the right blend of resources, workforce and business climate. The City of Vineland, New Jersey offers these advantages, and more, to food production, processing and related industries looking for a place to expand or relocate.

food processing
The new 75,000-square-foot AdvancePierre production facility in Vineland, NJ will include two raw and four cooked production lines for Philly steak. AdvancePierre is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest food companies. (City of Vineland)

Vineland is conveniently located along NJ Route 55, providing a quick and direct connection to customers in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York City and beyond. Vineland also offers competitive rail service, while freight air service and deep water port facilities, which include Foreign Trade Zones, are just a short drive away. Additionally, food processing and other agri-business companies are supported by a number of large and small trucking firms in Vineland, which carry market-ready food products in dry and refrigerated trailers to locations throughout the U.S.

“Vineland truly does stand out in terms of location and accessibility to major markets, municipal infrastructure, support services, state and local incentives, and very competitive operating costs, all of which are necessary ingredients for a healthy and profitable business environment,” said Mayor Anthony Fanucci. “These factors, along with our rich agricultural history, which includes hosting the largest farmers’ cooperative on the east coast in the Vineland Produce Auction, have helped draw a number of international companies to our city.”

In fact, over the past three years, Vineland has seen over $100 million dollars invested by food processing and cold storage operations, including Townsend Farms, AdvancePierre Foods, Bridor USA, Mamacita Foods, Lucca Freezer & Cold Storage, Safeway Fresh Foods, First Choice Freezer & Cold Storage, RLS Logistics and Davy Cold Storage.

“Business development is a collaborative effort,” said Vineland Economic Development Director Sandy Forosisky. “The Department of Economic Development offers ‘Business Concierge Service,’ which is designed to make expansion and relocation projects easier. We are a clearinghouse for information, while acting as a liaison to city government, as we help guide developers smoothly through the permitting and licensing process. Additionally, we are able to provide support through our successful Urban Enterprise Zone revolving loan fund when additional capital is required to move a project forward.”

For example, Oregon based Townsend Farms, a leading grower, buyer, processor and shipper of frozen fruits throughout the U.S., was looking to expand their operations. “We were doing a lot of business with blueberry packers in Hammonton, buying their fruit and shipping it to the west coast for processing,” said Vice President Margaret Townsend. “But as we began to outgrow our facilities and shipping costs were increasing, we wanted to set up a permanent east coast operation.” The company found a reasonable location in Vineland with an existing 215,000-square-foot building. Additionally, the city was able to provide a $4 million Urban Enterprise Zone loan to assist with renovation costs.

AdvancePierre Foods, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, recently cut the ribbon on a new 75,000-square-foot facility in Vineland. “This new facility expands our production capacity and geographic reach in a product category that is primed for growth,” said George Chappelle, COO of AdvancePierre. “The investment in four cooked production lines underscores the importance of this new capability in our product portfolio in meeting the market demand for this versatile, easy-to-prepare, premium product. We expect this business to grow, we expect this plant to grow and we expect this to be a very long relationship with the City of Vineland.”

In order to keep up with their growing demand, First Choice Freezer and Cold Storage currently is adding 61,000 square feet to their existing 210,000-square-foot facility, and is negotiating with the city to acquire 10 additional acres for a separate expansion in the Vineland Industrial Park South. Both projects also are utilizing financing from the Vineland UEZ loan program. “First Choice has already outgrown their last expansion three years ago,” Forosisky said. “As demand from local food manufacturing operations and importers of produce through the Port of Philadelphia continues to grow, companies here are growing to keep pace,”

Likewise, Lucca Freezer and Cold Storage, which serves as the flagship United States perishable facility for the AGRO Merchants Group, recently completed a major 100,000-square-foot addition to their existing operation. The location serves customers in the U.S. and abroad, including New Zealand, Italy, Peru, Argentina, Spain, Morocco and South Africa. “We are pretty diverse now on the different products coming into our warehouse,” said Company President Rusty Lucca. “There is steady growth here. That is why we’ve made another addition.”

“Lucca Cold Storage is the largest produce import facility in the United States,” Forosisky said. “When companies are making commitments and investments of this kind, it shows they have a real interest in our community.”

“We have taken a very aggressive approach when it comes to development, in marketing to companies and letting them know what type of assets we really have to offer,” Mayor Fanucci continued. “As a result, we are confident about the future and our ability to keep the momentum going. There are already new projects in the pipeline. We have acquired 68 additional acres to expand our industrial park, and our municipal electric and water utilities provide among the lowest rates in the state, which is especially critical to the food processing industry.”

For more information, please contact the City of Vineland’s Director of Economic Development, Sandy Forosisky at (856) 794-4100, or via e-mail at sforosisky@vinelandcity.org.


When you think of powerhouse industries that drive the Canadian economy, what comes to mind? How about the auto industry? Maybe it’s aviation and advanced manufacturing? We know that clean technology is an emerging industry but is it there yet? How about the life sciences industry?

You might be surprised to know that, according to Canada’s Food Processing Human Resources Council, the largest manufacturing industry in Canada currently is the food and beverage industry. According to Statistics Canada, this industry accounts for 17 percent of total manufacturing shipments in the country. It also is 2 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product and the largest manufacturing employer in Canada, employing approximately 246,000 people.

Hamilton Proudly at the Helm

In Hamilton, food and beverage manufacturing is the city’s second largest industry sector, in terms of both revenue and employment. This industry generates approximately $2 billion in total revenue with 80 establishments at its backbone.

“One of the city’s unchallenged strengths is the available, shovel-ready greenfield land—land that is affordable to business with low development charges,” say Glen Norton, Director of Economic Development for the City of Hamilton. “We know this is a significant business driver as the food and beverage manufacturing industries often require greenfield land opportunities for single purpose-built facilities. We have an ample supply of land and talent.”

A Top-Three Industry Leader on the Continent: Hamilton is located in the heart of Ontario’s highly prosperous agricultural-based business and food processing region. The city is in one of the three largest food and beverage processing areas in all of North America.

“Besides being a leading industry, this industry is a big draw for talent. Nearly 9,000 skilled workers in our city are involved in agri-business and the food processing sector,” comments Norm Schleehahn, Manager of Business Development for the City of Hamilton.

Hamilton’s Industry Game Changers: Companies like Maple Leaf Foods relocated a $400 million meat processing facility to Hamilton for just this reason. P & H Milling built the first greenfield flour mill in Eastern Canada in 75 years, at a cost of $45 million.

These types of investments are game-changers for the city. G3 Canada Limited is joining this wave of investment and development in the food sector in Hamilton. With an investment of a 50,000 metric tonne grain terminal, this new lake terminal at the Port of Hamilton will open this year.

Hamilton Offers Business Prime Agricultural Land: Hamilton is an area with a strong agricultural land base with the majority of 227,000 acres, within the Hamilton boundaries, qualifying as prime agricultural lands. This also is another important strength to the sector. To put this into perspective, only a mere 5 percent of Canada’s entire land mass constitutes prime agricultural land. Hamilton has extensive opportunities for land development.

Connecting Academic Innovation to Business Opportunities: In addition to McMaster University and Mohawk College, the nearby University of Guelph and its Guelph Food Technology Centre and Conestoga College’s Institute of Food Processing Technology, support this sector with specialty skills, leading in areas of food research, innovation, food safety and training. Hamilton has a well-established agri-food chain with access to raw materials and is the current co-chair city of the Ontario Food Cluster.

Some top food processing companies in Hamilton include: Maple Leaf Foods, mega-industry giant Tim Hortons’ coffee roasting facility, E.D. Smith, Steeped Tea, Canada Bread, pasta giant Olivieri, Gay Lea Foods, Karma Candy, oil seed processing firm Bunge, meat processing TMF Foods, confectionery firm Mondelez Canada Inc. and Oakrun Farm Bakery.

Location, Location, Location: With the major QEW/400 series highways, Hamilton is a 45-minute drive to a major U.S. border crossing, representing a potential market of more than 170 million customers within a day’s drive.

The City’s international airport provides 24-hour cargo services. The Port of Hamilton, the largest port on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, and the interconnected national railway system, provide a multi-modal transportation opportunity for business—ensuring logistics and goods movement are easily achieved.

The ‘Made in Hamilton’ Canadian Lunch Brings it Home: Hamilton proudly is home to what it calls the quintessential “Hamilton Lunch.” It’s a winning combination of the following Hamilton food and beverage firms:

  • Canada Bread – bread from Canada’s largest commercial bakery
  • Maple Leaf Foods – meat slices from a half a million square-foot meat processing facility
  • G.S. Dunn – mustard from the world’s largest miller of mustard seed
  • Greenbelt Microgreens – lettuce from Canada’s largest organic microgreens/lettuce producer
  • Gay Lea – cheese slices produced from a company that just invested $3 million in a dairy processing and innovation center in Hamilton

“The ‘Hamilton lunch’ is a great symbol for us to tell our story, with our many leading food processing firms in the city,” says Brian Morris, Business Development Consultant and Food and Beverage lead for the City of Hamilton. “We have the talent, the coveted greenfield land opportunities and the ‘open-for-business’ processes to not only support, but also allow the firms in this sector to succeed. Proudly, their success is our success.”


  1. This article provides a great piece of information. Well, today’s supply chain continues to be based upon outdated models in which convenience, low costs, and standard procedures are priorities that were to be considered to the utmost importance.

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