Georgia is known for soul-soothing Southern food, but did you know food processing is Georgia’s top manufacturing industry? More than 50,000 farms produce food commodities across the state, which means Georgia’s 652 food processing companies have easy access to an abundance of raw food materials. Together, those food processing companies contribute a whopping $12 billion to Georgia’s economy each year.
Snack manufacturer Snyder’s-Lance Inc. in Columbus became the second-largest salty snack company in the U.S. in 2010 with the merger of Snyder’s of Hanover, Penn. and Lance of Charlotte, N.C. Prior to 2010, Lance owned the company’s Columbus site, which was purchased from Tom’s Foods.
“Tom’s Foods had a presence in Georgia since 1925, when it was founded by Tom Hughston,” says Jonathan White, peanut commodity manager for Snyder’s-Lance in Columbus. “The Tom’s name has always been synonymous with peanuts, and that’s why our presence in Georgia is so important, as Georgia is No. 1 in the U.S. for peanut production. Our Columbus site is the peanut nucleus for Snyder’s-Lance because we shell, blanch, roast and process all our peanut paste for peanut butter, along with manufacturing of our snack nuts and peanut-based candy here. We have folks here who have worked at this site for 40 and 50 years. They are real treasures.”
Snyder’s-Lance core brands include Snyder’s of Hanover (pretzels), Lance (crackers, cookies and potato chips), Cape Cod (potato chips), Late July (organic chips) and Pretzel Crisps. A Georgia native, White says because peanuts are critical to their business, they expect to have a presence in Georgia for many years to come.
“We are truly blessed to work in a great state with such geographic diversity and an incredibly strong agribusiness environment,” he says.
The company is also a big supporter of the Georgia Grown program, which helps bring together producers, processors, suppliers, distributors, retailers, agritourism and consumers in one powerful, statewide community.
“Georgia Grown seemed like a natural fit for Snyder’s-Lance, and our partnership has been incredible,” White says. “Our booth in the Georgia Grown building at the Georgia National Fair has been so rewarding, and working with the Georgia Grown team is so much fun. We proudly display the Georgia Grown decal on our doors.”
Southeastern Mills Inc.
Southeastern Mills Inc. has been creating popular food products in Rome since the 1940s, and today the fourth-generation business is known nationwide for its five brands – Better Than Bouillon food bases, Southeastern Mills gravy and baking mixes, Shore Lunch premium dry soup mixes, Better Than Gravy mixes, and Crockery Gourmet seasoning mixes for slow cookers.
“Our Better Than Bouillon is the No. 1 food base in the U.S. and sells in every major grocery chain nationwide and in Canada,” says George Manak, vice president of Marketing & Business Development for Southeastern Mills Inc.
For quality control, Southeastern Mills employs five chefs who focus on delivering outstanding flavors and textures. The company is also one of the largest manufacturers of batters and breadings in the U.S., which they sell directly to restaurants and food manufacturers who coat their chicken with it.
Southeastern Mills has three manufacturing facilities in Rome, all of which have achieved the highest level of certification for safety and food quality.
“We hold ourselves to extremely high standards when it comes to food safety and quality, and we do it extremely well,” Manak says.
At Southeastern Mills, every employee has a voice.
“We have a saying here that if a decision is going to impact an employee, then that employee should be able to contribute to that decision,” he says. “It reflects our shareholders’ values, and it’s good business. We end up with a happy, motivated team with very low turnover. It’s a win-win.”