Nuts for peanuts

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, October 3, 2018

It’s been a good week for the peanut-processing industry in Southeastern Virginia.

Suffolk’s neighbors to the west, in Southampton County, recently had two announcements about investments into new and expanding peanut processing in the area.

On Friday, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina K. Ring was in Capron to help celebrate the announcement of Belmont Peanuts’ planned new $2.5-million production and warehousing facility that will help the local operation grow its business, generating 10 new jobs and increasing their volume of purchased peanuts by 30 percent in the next three years.

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Belmont Peanuts was founded in 1993 as a small mail-order business and has grown into a thriving peanut processing operation that sells a wide variety of flavored gourmet peanuts through direct sales to customers and retail chains.

And just this Monday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Hampton Farms, a division of the Severn Peanut Company, would invest $5.735 million into its peanut processing facility in Southampton County.

The expansion will create 14 new jobs and lead to an increase in purchases of Virginia-grown peanuts by $6 million over the next three years. The expansion will install a bulk peanut butter production line. Hampton Farms is known for its line of in-shell peanuts, gourmet peanuts and nut butters sold under its own label as well as under private labels and the fact that it provides all in-shell peanuts for Major League Baseball.

These announcements should be looked on as a rising tide for the Virginia peanut industry as a whole. Local farmers and processors all along the chain of production will benefit from these expansions.