Consumers of food and beverage products are a lot like chameleons. Their tastes, preferences, and interests can truly change on a dime.
While one day, consumers might be craving high-protein fare, another day it might be on-the-go nutritional snacks, and yet another week might see demand spike for fresh, minimally processed foods. If one thing is certain in the food processing industry, it’s change.
This ever-evolving environment challenges food processors to remain adaptable, resourceful, and capable of providing rapid low-calorie, low-sodium, fat-free solutions. Well, maybe it’s not quite that simple, but you get the idea.
Food processing firms must not only be mindful of consumer whims, market demands, and increasingly strict regulations, but also quality control and food safety issues, supply chain management, and, of course, profit margins. Not to mention the industry’s ongoing technological evolution.
All these reasons — and then some — drive food processors’ site decisions and warrant diligent analysis when it comes to finding new dirt on which to expand operations.
Recipe for Growth
A host of project headlines offers anecdotal evidence of North Texas’ status as a vibrant hub of food processing and related business activity. In fact, from corporate headquarters to production, distribution and retail businesses, more than 15,000 establishments account for nearly 370,000 jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the Dallas Regional Chamber.
The list of food manufacturers with a presence in the DFW region is impressive, and includes Coca-Cola, Oak Farms Dairy, Frito-Lay, MillerCoors, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Golden State Foods, Bimbo Bakeries, Kraft Heinz, and many more.
Certainly, North Texas’ workforce of roughly 3.8 million — part of 7.2 million residents in the 13-county region — is a star attraction for expanding companies. Perhaps it is not surprising that Site Selection magazine ranked the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro number one on its 2017 list of “Most Competitive Cities” in North America for the food and beverage sector.
“DFW is a great place for food and beverage companies, both headquarter and manufacturing operations,” says Duane Dankesreiter, senior vice president, business information and research, for the Dallas Regional Chamber. “Those companies come here because of our central location, cost of doing business, and access to great talent.”
Location is Everything
Can we find the people we need? Will we have suppliers near us? How long will it take us to reach our customers? Do we have access to water and waste-water systems? Are there available real estate options or do we have time to build? What state or local incentives are available?
These are but a few of the myriad questions that will help sharpen the focus of a food processing site-selection project.
Further, as food safety becomes more and more critical, food manufacturers must also consider the best ways to most effectively — and safely — transport food to their customers. Often, the answer is to set up shop close to raw ingredients. While Texas is known for oil, cattle, and cotton, its diverse terrain and fertile soil also yields everything from broccoli, cauliflower, and kale to cantaloupe, tomatoes, peaches, and so much more.
“Food processors like to be near areas where they can source grains and other food sources for production,” said Chris Teesdale, SIOR, an executive vice president and member of the steering committee for Dallas-based Colliers International Logistics and Transportation.
Teesdale and Tom Pearson, SIOR, an executive vice president in Colliers’ industrial division, are part of Colliers’ Supply Chain Real Estate Advisors Team. The real estate specialists’ combined experience in industrial real estate translates into comprehensive knowledge of North Texas’ industrial property market.
In recent years, Teesdale and Pearson have seen increased industrial interest and activity in the southern DFW market, where one rising community is garnering attention from industry professionals.
At the crossroads of U.S. Highways 67 and 287, the upscale, blossoming community of Midlothian is making the short lists of companies seeking available land, comprehensive infrastructure, and promising growth potential. The community is currently home to a variety of distribution and manufacturing plants, including Adkins Seasoning and Toronto-based Chemtrade, which produces potassium chloride at its Midlothian plant.
“Midlothian is convenient to many plant resources in central Texas,” Teesdale said. “With its location between Dallas and Fort Worth, it has access to a strong labor force and access to highways which provides a wealth of resources for expanding companies.”
Land Is a Hot Topic
When it comes to selecting a location for a new food processing plant, land is a key consideration. Not only must the land’s topography and soil sustain the future manufacturing facility long-term, but there must also be road and rail transportation options suitable for delivery and distribution needs.
And when it comes to real estate, an existing building is always nice, but an expanse of land offers increased flexibility.
“I would say that, generally speaking, food processing companies prefer to build their own building, unless there is an existing building that was a former food processing facility,” Colliers International’s Pearson said.
Thanks to two business parks, RailPort and Midlothian Business Park, Midlothian is poised for industrial development— from manufacturing and distribution to food processing, and more.
The 1,600-acre RailPort is home to facilities for Target, Applied LNG, and QuikTrip, to name a few. The park also has a spacious 800,000-square-foot building available. Served by Union Pacific and BNSF railroads, RailPort is zoned heavy industrial to light commercial and offers sites ranging from 40 acres to more than 100 acres.
The park sits on U.S. Highway 67, across from the new 138-acre Midlothian Business Park, which caters to companies seeking smaller parcels of land for facilities that might range from 25,000 to 150,00 square feet. Sites range from two and a half acres to 19.
Toss in Midlothian’s convenient access to a versatile workforce of 1.3 million within a 30-minute drive and it is easy to understand the emerging city’s appeal.
Dynamic By Design
With plenty of greenfield space, ample water, natural gas, and electricity resources, and proximity to diverse, skilled talent, Midlothian offers considerable advantages for business development.
Additionally, the newly opened 360 Tollway, which connects with U.S. Highway 287, translates into even faster connectivity between the southern side of the Metroplex and northern destinations. This is good news for Midlothian companies with a range of logistical needs.
“From a distribution perspective, our location is a huge selling point, especially for manufacturers that might be involved in food processing,” said Larry Barnett, president of Midlothian Economic Development. “The fact that we are located on the south side of the Metroplex means that companies can access the DFW market, but they also can reach the southern portion of the state without having to go through Metroplex traffic.”
Compelling food for thought, indeed.