Orange County Partnership - News

  • Royal Wine/Kedem is constructing a 627,000 SF manufacturing and distribution facility of kosher wine and juices with a tasting-room on site in Goshen, New York.

Food and Beverage Sector’s Growth Tied to New Technology, Sustainability, Workplace Quality of Life

A recent report by CRB Group, a full-service facility design, engineering, construction and consulting firm for biotech, pharma, food and beverage, and science and technology, found six emerging trends in the food and beverage sector to watch out for in 2023.


Among the trends that impact the real estate development sector nationwide and locally in Orange County are innovative processes; product and packaging and their impacts on production; increasing food manufacturing automation; sustainability; rising cost pressures due to supply chain challenges and evolving workplace quality of life to attract and retain workers.


The analysis authored by Jason Robertson, Vice President, Food + Beverage, CRB Group and Tony Moses, PhD, Fellow, Product Innovation at CRB Group, stated, “Like a powerful locomotive, the food and beverage manufacturing industry has incredible forward momentum, driven by innovative new processes and products.” They noted that the industry’s growth is fueled by evolving consumer attitudes and their willingness to embrace the use of science in food production.


They added, “There’s never been more science involved in food processing and packaging, geared to allay consumer concerns about cost, health and environmental sustainability.”


The increased use of automation comes as the industry continues to face a labor shortage. “The shortage of labor in the food and beverage industry is an ongoing issue and will speed up the transition to more automated facilities,” the report stated. “The supply of raw materials and available land is often most abundant in rural areas where it can be hard to adequately staff production and packaging lines without bussing people in from a distance. COVID-19 has made this worse; even if you can find enough people to staff a plant, physical distancing prevents them from being there all at the same time.”


The report also chronicled a host of supply chain issues, including the shortage of refrigerated and frozen warehouse space. Commercial brokerage firm CRBE estimates that demand for cold storage space will rise by 100 million square feet during the next five years. That’s an increase of 47% from the current level of approximately 214 million square feet.


In terms of the labor shortage, the CRB report noted that food and beverage companies are seeking to provide workers with a more attractive quality of work life as a means to attract and retain key workers.


“Food and beverage manufacturing facilities in rural areas are in direct competition for employees with e-commerce and other newer industries that appeal to younger workers by offering competitive pay in a more relaxed and comfortable setting,” the report noted. In this vein, property owners are finding it challenging to renovate facilities built in the 1960s and 1970s. One means of retrofitting a building for today’s workforce is to incorporate better ergonomics, such as allowing more daylight and improving break rooms and lounge areas for employees.


Conor Eckert, Vice President of Business Attraction for the Orange County Partnership of Goshen, said the food and beverage sector in Orange County is poised to continue to grow. Key factors in this sector’s growth include several trends pointed out in the CRB report— innovation, access to consumers, and new quality of life requirements for workforce retention.


“At the Orange County Partnership, we’re working on a handful of leads in the food and beverage space—including a large-scale produce manufacturing requirement, ‘Project Fresh,’ and the manufacturing and packaging of an Asian food product, which we have named ‘Project Fortune.’” He added that recently, the Orange County Partnership assisted in the attraction of the largest manufacturer of Kosher wine and grape juice in the United States, Royal Wine/Kedem to Goshen.


Eckert noted that sustainability is an emerging demand in the food and beverage industry. He pointed to the recycling of water, reuse of food waste, and limiting carbon emissions that seem to be common requirements. “Whether it be classic food manufacturing, packaging, or agricultural tech/leafy greens—infrastructure remains a key consideration in site selection. Access to robust public water/sewer capacity or natural resources is important, as is reliable power of 4MW or higher.”


He added, “As we look to grow this industry, site readiness and infrastructure investment will be needed to compete at scale.”