Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, will invest $96.2 million to expand and upgrade its Lipton Tea manufacturing plant in the City of Suffolk. This investment enables facility upgrades and the purchase of new production machinery for the largest tea processing facility in the United States. Virginia successfully competed against Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina for the project.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell said, “An investment of this caliber secures the future viability of Unilever’s Lipton plant in Suffolk, which has been in operation since 1955 and produces nearly all of the Lipton tea bags sold throughout North America. As the largest tea production facility in the U.S., this operation is crucial to the prosperity of the company and employs nearly 300 in Hampton Roads. This expansion and machinery upgrade ensures the continued success of the Lipton plant for years to come, and is a major win for Virginia and Suffolk.”
“Lipton has thrived in Suffolk for nearly 60 years, enjoying a business climate, workforce and infrastructure second to none,” said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The Suffolk plant’s proximity to the Port of Virginia influenced the location decision for this investment, as the company imports loose tea through the port from various countries. We are proud that nearly all of Lipton teas are produced from the Commonwealth, and this equipment upgrade will allow the company to increase production and stay competitive.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $1 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies.
“Lipton has been a part of Suffolk for 58 years, and I am absolutely thrilled and overflowing with pride that Unilever and Lipton will reinvest in Suffolk and remain a vital member of our community,” said Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson. “Unilever is a global leader in the food, home and personal care products industry with facilities and resources all over the world. Their decision to stay and reinvest in this facility is a testament to our commitment to keep Virginia and Suffolk an inviting location for business investment and expansion.”
“Unilever is enormously proud of the heritage of Lipton, its employees in Suffolk and the wide range of quality teas we produce at this historic factory,” said Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever North America. “We are grateful for the support of Governor McDonnell, Mayor Johnson, Secretary Cheng and the 300 employees who work tirelessly to produce the world’s largest tea brand for the North American market. Unilever is investing more than $96 million to upgrade the plant with modern equipment and state-of-the-art technology to continue producing the high quality tea for our millions of tea-loving consumers.”
The Suffolk plant was one of Unilever’s first factories to achieve zero-to-landfill in the USA and was a pilot site to implement LED lighting, which significantly reduces electricity consumption. It has an active team that continues to drive the company’s initiatives under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.