Case Studies Danone
Danone North America’s Largest Plant in the World Continues Growth in the Shenandoah Valley
Building on a Legacy
Danone North America, a subsidiary of Paris-based Danone S.A., is a purpose-driven food and beverage leader with a diverse portfolio of dairy and plant-based brands and the world's largest Certified B Corporation®, which requires companies to meet social and environmental standards and offer transparency and accountability to the public.
Danone’s Mount Crawford plant has become its largest facility in the world. Formerly WhiteWave Foods Company, the manufacturer began operating in Rockingham County in 1988 and was purchased by WhiteWave in April 2017. The 600,000-square-foot plant employs more than 600 workers and produces more than 120 million gallons of product annually. Notable brands produced at the facility include Horizon Organic®, Silk®, International Delight®, STōK™, and So Delicious® Dairy Free. The merger combined the production of major brands and presenting an opportunity for the company to expand and grow the plant-based category around the world.
As Danone North America considered Virginia or another existing plant in Pennsylvania for the expansion, the benefits of a Virginia location were top of mind.
The Virginia Solution
Capitalizing on Location and Talent
Food and beverage processing is Virginia’s second-largest manufacturing sector and one of the Commonwealth’s fastest-growing industries. Virginia is within a one-day drive of 47% of the U.S. population and more than 119,000 food and beverage stores with a combined $370 billion in sales. Virginia also offers a diverse ecosystem of partners and suppliers for food and beverage processors, along with a prime location close to major East Coast population centers and the infrastructure to move products quickly. The Shenandoah Valley has emerged as an industry hub and is home to 11 of the top food and beverage companies in the U.S. and Canada, including Anheuser Busch InBev, Cargill, Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Danone North America, Dr. Pepper, The Hershey Company, McKee Foods Corporation, Molson Coors Beverage Company, PepsiCo Inc., Perdue Farms, and Pilgrim’s Pride. The region is plentiful in natural resources and boasts an excellent transportation infrastructure that offers connections to markets north or south and east or west.
Danone North America’s Mount Crawford plant benefits from a location convenient to Interstate 81, which connects Rockingham County to major Northeast population centers. The Virginia Inland Port is 31 miles from the Shenandoah Valley and The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads is 182 miles east, providing domestic and global gateways within easy reach. Food and beverage production is at the heart of the manufacturing sector in the Valley, employing more than 5% of the region’s labor force of over 175,000 people at major companies and ensuring a pipeline of skilled talent. The Shenandoah Valley also has 10 colleges and universities and eight career and technical centers that strengthen the workforce and create collaborative talent solutions.
A Complete Ecosystem for Food and Beverage Success
Danone strives to create economic and social value while nurturing natural ecosystems through sustainable agriculture. One way the company reduces its environmental impact at the Rockingham County plant is by sourcing and distributing locally. The company gets its milk from local suppliers through the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative and sources liquid cane sugar from nearby manufacturer Sugaright, a subsidiary of CSC Sugar.
Strong relationships with established, reliable suppliers are just one way Danone has maximized the benefits of a Virginia location. The company also partners with Phoenix Packaging, a subsidiary of Grupo Phoenix located in Pulaski County, on packaging solutions, and utilizes another Rockingham County company, InterChange Cold Storage, for storage and distribution of its finished products.
The Shenandoah Valley Wins Again
This myriad of advantages prompts corporate partners like Danone North America to continue reinvesting in Virginia. In October 2017, the company announced a $60 million expansion to add new production capacity and expand its warehouse in Rockingham County, creating 49 jobs. The company significantly exceeded its hiring goals by the end of 2020.
From the farm to the table, through manufacturing, packaging, and distribution, the Commonwealth provides food and beverage processors with a robust workforce pipeline, a highly innovative and collaborative ecosystem, and deep industry expertise within Virginia’s universities and research centers.