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Lehigh Valley’s Food and Beverage Processing Sector Highlighted in National Magazine

By Colin McEvoy on November 10, 2015

The Lehigh Valley food and beverage processing sector — which has been identified as one of the four targeted industries of the Lehigh Valley — was highlighted this month in a special “Food Processing” supplement issue of the Area Development magazine. Area Development is considered one of the leading executive magazines covering corporate site selection and relocation.

Below is a reprint of the article featuring the Lehigh Valley, which ran under the headline “Food & Beverage Processing Firms Drawn by the Right Mix of Assets.”

The cover of Area Development's special "Food Processing" supplement issue, which highlighted the Lehigh Valley in an article.

The cover of Area Development’s special “Food Processing” supplement issue, which highlighted the Lehigh Valley in an article.

The food and beverage processing industry is in the midst of significant upheaval, and regions with the right combination of economic assets have a unique opportunity to take advantage of those changes.

As customer demands have changed, numerous new subsector opportunities have arisen in the food and beverage processing sector.  The industry is growing rapidly fragmented as consumer demand has divided across a wide range of eating preferences, and product innovation is being driven largely by evolving consumption desires in variety, health, and convenience.

A sample of the developing food categories demonstrates the immense variety in the sector: ethnic, fresh, organics, restaurant-quality frozen, meal kits, handheld entrees, fortified, and gluten-free.  Likewise, growth of the beverage market, characterized in the breweries and wineries subsectors, demonstrate the rising appeal of craft and unique local offerings.

This upheaval presents substantial opportunities for new firm attraction and development, but only for regions with the right combination of economic advantages.  This fast-changing industry requires a central location with a well-developed transportation infrastructure, a low cost of doing business, and the availability of agricultural products for food processing.

The availability of water and sewer capacity and lines to industrial sites is crucial, as is a strong existing local pool of high-demand occupations. And finally, quality of place assets is of utmost importance, including ample opportunities for cultural activities, recreation, shopping, restaurants, and sporting events.

Finding a region with the exact balance of these assets is no easy task.  One example is the Lehigh Valley, the third-largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania. Just 60 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City, it boasts a well-developed transportation infrastructure and close proximity to the all the major northeastern U.S. markets.

And as a result of superior water quality due to pre-treatment water facilities, Lehigh County is the home of more beverage manufacturing companies than any of the other 66 counties in the state, according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

“Food and beverage manufacturing has been identified as one of the key target industries in our region, and that’s because we have just the right mix of economic assets,” said LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham. “With multiple nationally-known brands establishing a presence here – such as Ocean Spray, Coca-Cola, Samuel Adams, Nestle – food and beverage production is becoming very identifiable with the Lehigh Valley.”

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