On the evolving global landscape, no industry is immune to change, and the food processing industry is no exception to the rule.
Factors driving corporate expansion and relocation decisions include access to consumers, delivery options, food safety, labor availability, changing market demands, waste reduction, and more.
As a state that has proven itself to be pro-business time and again, Texas offers a multitude of advantages to food processing companies eager to optimize their operations.
Texas’ low operating costs, vast transportation network, robust manufacturing workforce, and plenty of available land are ideal for any manufacturing company — including those involved in food processing. But an abundance of natural gas and electricity at competitive rates — paired with the availability of ample water resources — is especially attractive to companies whose complex food processing operations require not only efficiency and reliability, but the ability to quickly adapt to changing needs.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Texas is one of five states that accounted for 38 percent of the 34,661 U.S. food and beverage processing plants operating in 2015.
These five states also have the highest populations and lead in agricultural production and manufacturing. Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois accounted for 35 percent of both the U.S. population and all manufacturing establishments in 2015.
USDA data shows that Texas ranked third for the most food processing plants (2,175) and has more cattle ranches than any other state in the nation. The Lone Star State has a diverse portfolio of industries, and food processing is an increasingly important part of that picture.
North Texas' Key Ingredients
While major food processing clusters are located throughout the state, North Texas, in particular, has seen significant industry activity.
Iconic companies with operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area include Dean Foods, Frito-Lay, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, McLane Classic Foods, and MillerCoors. Meanwhile, just south of DFW, the Waco Interstate-35 area is home to Mars Chocolate North America, Pilgrim's Pride, Sanderson Farms, and Cargill Foods.
In between Waco and DFW and just slightly to the east along Interstate 45, Corsicana has a cluster of food production facilities including Collin Street Bakery, Navarro Pecan Company, Russell Stover Candies, and Pactiv, a manufacturer and distributor of food packaging and foodservice products.
In the past couple of years, several food industry firms have set up shop in North Texas or announced plans to expand facilities. In March 2016, Los Angeles-based Pegasus Foods, a major manufacturer of frozen foods for restaurant brands and supermarkets, revealed plans to build an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Rockwall, just northeast of DFW. The $10 million project is expected to create 325 jobs.
The announcement came less than a week after McKesson Corp.’s March 2016 decision to spend $157 million on a Texas expansion in Irving, which was anticipated to bring nearly 1,000 new jobs with the new regional hub.
The San Francisco-based healthcare giant — which delivers pharmaceuticals, business services, and medical supplies to hospitals, healthcare systems, and retail pharmacies — formally opened the doors to its Irving campus in April 2017.
Additionally, Mexico’s largest pasta manufacturer, La Moderna, made headlines in March 2018 when it opened a new $50 million U.S. headquarters and production facility in Cleburne, just south of DFW. The new 150,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art production, manufacturing, and distribution facility marks the company’s first physical United States property, and the beginning of an expansion of its presence in the U.S. As one of the most technologically advanced factories in the U.S., the facility has the capability to produce nearly 4,000 tons of pasta per month. The plant will create 100 direct and 300 indirect new jobs for the city of Cleburne and Johnson County.
And late last year, Irvine, Calif.-based food service company Golden State Foods found its ideal site complete with proximity to customers, access to talent, and a strategic network of highways on the outskirts of southern Fort Worth in Burleson, Texas. In December 2017, the company announced plans to build a $70 million, 160,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility for its liquid products division in Burleson. The project, which benefited from a $900,000 Texas Enterprise Grant, is expected to bring at least 150 new jobs to the region.
Smorgasbord of Site Solutions
Thanks to a variety of factors, North Texas is well positioned for more food industry success. In fact, Jamba Juice recently relocated its corporate headquarters from California to Frisco, Texas, to re-energize the company’s corporate brand and tap into markets in the Midwest and farther east.
And in September 2017, DHL Supply Chain, in partnership with Campbell Soup Co., celebrated the opening of a new distribution center in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to storing and distributing Campbell soups, sauces, beverages, snacks, and meals, the facility provides Campbell Soup Co. with the capability to assemble customer-requested deliverables such as mixed packs, bundle packs, cartons, and displays.
An established industry cluster and lucrative location advantages will continue to help North Texas communities attract a variety of companies with ties to the food processing industry.
Situated just 26 miles south of DFW, the rapidly growing community of Midlothian, for example, is actively pursuing manufacturing operations, especially those involved with food processing.
With two business parks and copious reserves of water and other essential utilities, Midlothian offers not only available land and critical infrastructure, but also strategic proximity to a skilled workforce, access to a network of uncongested transportation options, and a lifestyle that blends serene Texas horizons with nearby cosmopolitan amenities.
The city is home to Adkins Seasoning, which was founded in 1967, and Toronto-based Chemtrade, which produces potassium chloride at its Midlothian plant. The Midlothian Chemtrade plant, which has expansion plans on the drawing board, serves customers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Puerto Rico, Japan and beyond. Major customers include Campbell’s Soup, Nestle, Pfizer, and a variety of other pharmaceutical and nutraceutical firms.
The above stories represent a mere snapshot of the food processing activity taking place in North Texas and throughout the state. And thanks to the Lone Star State’s wealth of advantages and industry interest, the state’s food processing activity shows no signs of letting up.
It seems that here in Texas, you really can have your cake and eat it, too.