Yesterday, Unilever announced plans to invest $96.2 million to upgrade its Lipton Tea Plant in Suffolk, part of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.
The Lipton Tea plant has operated out of Suffolk since 1955 and is the largest tea processing facility in the U.S., producing nearly all the Lipton tea bags sold throughout North America.
The investment will allow the company to increase production by both expanding and upgrading to more modern equipment. The Suffolk plant already has a reputation for efficiency and sustainability—in 2009 it became a “zero-landfill” facility through a combination of recycling, composting, and converting waste into usable energy.
Close proximity to the international Port of Virginia was a key deciding factor in the Commonwealth’s favor. Unilever already utilizes the port to bring in loose tea from all over the world for processing at its Suffolk plant. The Port of Virginia offers access to 250 ports in more than 100 overseas locations.
The strength of the Hampton Roads employee pool was another positive factor cited by the company. More than 300 highly-skilled workers currently support the Lipton plant.
This investment adds to Virginia’s growing food and beverage cluster. Home to household names such as Hershey Foods, Nestlé Prepared Foods, Kraft Foods, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, more than 550 food and beverage manufacturing companies have established operations in the Commonwealth.
To learn why food and beverage companies have invested more than $1.9 in Virginia over the last decade, click here.
Governor McDonnell presents Bill Kelly, Suffolk Supply Chain Leader, Unilever, with a commemorative share of stock in the Virginia Company at the Lipton Tea plant announcement event in Suffolk, Va.