Peanut processor to add jobs

Published 10:49 pm Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hampton Farms will bring 60 new jobs to Southampton County in this building, formerly occupied by International Paper.

Hampton Farms will bring 60 new jobs to Southampton County in this building, formerly occupied by International Paper.

Hampton Farms plans to bring 60 new jobs to the area at an average salary of $33,400.

The company, based in Severn, N.C., will produce peanut butter made from the peanuts grown in the Virginia-Carolina area. The company will occupy a former paper sheeting plant that was built by the Union Camp Corp. west of the Route 58 Bypass on Armory Drive, just outside of Franklin. Production could start by next July.

While the plant is located in Southampton County, it is in a revenue-sharing zone with Franklin, so the estimated $841,517 of tax revenue over 10 years will be shared between the two jurisdictions. The company plans a million dollars’ worth of real estate improvements, plus $5 million worth of production equipment.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

Hampton Farms is a family-owned descendent of Severn Peanut Co., a firm that dates back to the mid-1940s and, along with Meherrin Agriculture, now the parent company, coordinates closely with farmers who actually produce the crop.

“Hampton Farms and Severn Peanut Company of Severn, N.C., are pleased to become a part of Southampton County and the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Dallas Barnes, president of Hampton Farms. “We believe the relocation to Southampton/Franklin will be a great fit for Hampton Farms and affords Hampton the benefits of immediate and long-term expansion.”

Southampton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dallas O. Jones said it was good to get a company like Hampton Farms.

“For more than 60 years, we’ve admired their growth from a small, local peanut sheller to leading roaster and number one brand of in-shell peanuts in the country,” Jones said.

“They’ve built their business the right way, with a strong reputation for honesty and integrity, and we are honored to partner with them on this latest expansion.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell said Virginia successfully competed against North Carolina for the project, and he welcomed Hampton Farms to Virginia.

“We are thrilled that, as part of its regional corporate growth, Hampton Farms chose Virginia,” McDonnell said. “Southampton County is the perfect fit for the company’s needs, offering an existing building that allows great speed to market, and abundant national resources for its product.

“It is gratifying that a region that is recovering economically will gain 60 new jobs, and a strong Virginia sector will be utilized.”

Jim Cheng, Virginia secretary of Commerce and Trade, said Hampton Farms is a great addition to the Commonwealth’s food and beverage industry.

“Southampton County will benefit from new jobs and investment, and the company is able to take advantage of the infrastructure in place that put Virginia ahead of the competition,” Cheng said.

The company operates an integrated system from peanut seed to the harvested crop, working with farmers who grow under contract with the company. After harvest, the peanuts are converted to finished products, such as peanut butter and snack peanut products, currently with plants in Massachusetts, and Severn and Edenton, N.C., as well as Portales, N.M. The Franklin-Southampton facility will be added to the list.

Markets for Hampton Farms products are nationwide.

Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association director Dell Cotton reported Southampton farmers planted 6,824 acres of peanuts in 2012, and their neighbors in Isle of Wight planted 3,345 acres. Practically all of these are planted under contract with users, including Hampton Farms, who produce peanut products for sale.

Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. Board chairman Warren Beale noted that Southampton was once the largest peanut-producing county in the nation. The advent of the new facility, he said, is an important continuation of the tradition of a great product from a great agricultural community.

“This is a fitting reuse of the former International Paper Company Paper Converting Innovation Center and represents a further diversification of our local economy,” Beale said. “The Franklin-Southampton community is in the process of redefining itself, and this announcement contributes to the strengthening of our local base.”