Georgia Food, Beverage Industries Gain Momentum in Face of Surging Demand

Friday, March 5th, 2021

One year ago, no one knew how quickly demand for food processing would surge in response to a rapid, international shift in consumer lifestyles and purchasing behaviors due to a global pandemic. Accounting for more than 22% of jobs created in Georgia since July 1, 2020, major food brands and their suppliers have leveraged Georgia’s location in the fastest-growing region of the country, existing workforce, logistics, and incentives infrastructures to expand and meet consumer demand.

"We've watched food purchasing trends change a great deal over the past several months, and our state's pro-business environment has been critical to helping companies quickly expand to meet growing consumer demand."

- GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson

Within the past few months alone, Georgia has welcomed Freshly and HelloFresh meal delivery services, along with BandD Foods, and La Regina Atlantica. Big names like General Mills, Nestlé Purina, Ken’s Foods, and Frito-Lay have also announced expansion plans in the state.

Georgia’s pro-business environment and partnership approach to doing business, has helped fuel this momentum. Since the beginning of fiscal year 2021, food processing companies have created approximately 4,300 jobs for Georgians through state and local economic development projects.

"When you're able to expand operations in an area that provides a hardworking, can-do base of talent and couple that with the favorable business environment the State of Georgia has developed, you dive right in."

- Bob Merchant, Chief Operating Officer for Ken's Foods, Inc.

Hub for Headquarters
As noted in Site Selection’s “We Speak Business” Georgia issue, the state is home to more than half of the United States’ top 100 food processing companies – with numerous household brands headquartered in the Peach State, too.

A few of the most recognizable names in food with Georgia headquarters include Chick-fil-A, Waffle House, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Great American Cookies, King’s Hawaiian, Krystal, Mellow Mushroom, Cinnabon, Church’s Chicken, and the HoneyBaked Ham Company. In recent months, both Papa John’s and Chicken Salad Chick have also announced plans to establish headquarters in metro Atlanta, citing Georgia’s diverse pipeline of talent as a major driver of their decisions.

Beverage Boom
Home to the birthplace of Coca-Cola and the company’s global headquarters, as well as breweries for Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, and local craft brewers including Creature Comforts, Terrapin Beer Co., Scofflaw Brewing Co., to name just a few – the beverage industry is big business in Georgia. Much like food processing, Georgia’s beverage industry is also continuing to gain momentum.

 In September of 2020, sports beverage company BANG ENERGY announced plans to invest $145 million in opening their first Southeastern manufacturing and distribution facility in Lithia Springs, Georgia. Anheuser-Busch, which employs more than 500 Georgians in Cartersville, also announced two expansions during 2020 for a total of $235 at their northwest Georgia brewing operations.

International Attention
Thanks to the state’s leadership in agribusiness, its world-class ports system, and its geographic location – within a two-hour flight from 80% of the U.S. market – Georgia also attracts investment from food and beverage companies from around the world. In October of 2020, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that La Regina Atlantica, a U.S. subsidiary of Italian producer of homemade pasta sauces La Regina di San Marzano, would invest $20 million in opening a food processing facility in Alma, Georgia.

With local farmers who produce carrots, peppers, basil, onions, and meats, and the ability to seamlessly transport freshly grown tomatoes from Italy through the Port of Savannah, La Regina Atlantica will soon make their world-famous sauces for their North American customers in southeast Georgia.

La Regina Atlantica’s announcement came on the heels of Governor Kemp announcing Berlin, Germany-based HelloFresh’splans to open their first Southeastern U.S. distribution facility in Coweta County. In 2019, HelloFresh delivered more than 281 million meals to customers in 13 countries and across three continents. Their west central Georgia distribution facility will allow them to reach new goals and better serve their customers across the Southeast.

More about Food Processing in Georgia
For additional information about the state’s business-friendly tax structure, workforce training programs, logistics network, and why hundreds of food and beverage companies have chosen to establish roots in Georgia, please contact Hank Evans at (404) 962-4034.