Agriculture/Food & Beverage

Washington County’s nationally-recognized agricultural economy provides the solid foundation needed to support continued growth of food and beverage companies.  Dedicated and loyal talent, who possess diverse skill sets cultivated through years of farming, exhibit aptitudes and experiences which are highly attractive and relevant to 21st century manufacturing operations.

Interesting Facts

  • Food processing is one of Virginia’s largest manufacturing sectors; the Commonwealth is home to more than 650 food processing companies which employ over 35,000 people.
  • Washington County’s agricultural industries supporting tobacco and livestock production dates to the late 1700’s. Today, the County continues to remain an important regional center for agribusiness transactions and investments, and home to over 1,500 farms, the average size of which is 117 acres.
  • Cattle and calves are leading livestock products; with inventory exceeding 35,000, Washington County ranks amongst the Top 5 Virginia counties and Top 15% nationally for cattle and calf production. The County is also Virginia’s leading community for egg production.
  • The I-81 interstate corridor is home to a vibrant foods industry. 33 food manufacturers employing over 4,300 workers are located within 100 miles of Washington County. In addition, at least 70 small and large-scale beverage producers, and food products packaging companies can also be found throughout the surrounding VA/TN border region.
  • Proximity to major domestic interstate systems and highway networks help agricultural producers, and food and beverage manufacturers access major U.S. population centers. Over 28 food retailer distribution centers are located within 250 miles or less of Washington County.

Key Washington County Employers

CompanyProduct/Service
K-VA-T/Food CityCorporate HQ and Distribution Facilities for Food Retailer
Food Country USACorporate HQ for Food Retailer
Dutt & Wagner Egg Production and Food Product Distribution

Other Regional Employers (Virginia)

CompanyProduct/Services
Shearers FoodsSnack Product Manufacturing
Helms CandyConfectionery Product Manufacturing
GatoradeSports Beverages
PepsiBottling Facility

Comparative Wages for Food Manufacturing

Wages for food manufacturing workers in the Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol VA/TN MSA are low to competitive compared with wages in similar markets. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019)

OccupationKingsport-Bristol-Bristol MSACincinnati MSAChicago-Naperville-Elgin MSAPortland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSANew York-Newark-Jersey City MSAMinneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MSAU.S. Average
Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders$16.19$17.78$16.57$16.97$14.55$17.37$16.15
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers$17.51$21.69$20.35$23.75$21.40$22.07$20.67
Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators$19.09$17.90$19.12$20.43$20.38$22.48$18.24