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Mondelēz investing $122M in Henrico bakery expansion

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Mondelez’s Richmond Biscuit Bakery at 6002 S. Laburnum Ave., where the company recently completed a $10 million, 68,000-square-foot expansion. (Courtesy of Henrico County)

Cookie and cracker manufacturer Mondelēz International will invest $122.5 million in an expansion of its bakery in eastern Henrico, the governor’s office announced Thursday.

The Illinois-based holding company, whose brand portfolio includes Oreo, Ritz and Chips Ahoy, recently completed the first part of the expansion: a $10 million, 68,000-square-foot addition of its Richmond Biscuit Bakery at 6002 S. Laburnum Ave., where it plans to install tens of millions of dollars’ worth of new equipment.

The equipment includes a high-speed Oreo production line for the bakery, which employs more than 500 workers and is the company’s East Coast manufacturing hub for its stateside operations. The company’s other products include Nilla wafers, Wheat Thins and Premium crackers.

The investment also includes a new 490,000-square-foot fulfillment center at a nearby site at 943 S. Airport Drive. The center is slated to open in 2022 and will support the company’s U.S. sales and distribution, creating about 80 jobs.

The center will be built on an 83-acre site that makes up the bulk of the planned first phase of Sauer Industrial Center, a 450-acre site just south of Richmond International Airport that local developer Sauer Properties plans to ultimately fill with 3.3 million square feet of industrial space.

Mondelez International is an Illinois-based holding company whose portfolio includes Oreo cookies, Wheat Thins and other snacks.

Becknell Industrial is developing that phase and purchased the 83 acres in August for $4.26 million. The site is directly northeast of the Airport Drive-Pocahontas Parkway interchange.

Mondelēz has expanded its Laburnum facility over the years and secured a permit last year for this latest expansion, which has been completed. The nearly 50-year-old facility has been in operation since 1973.

Thursday’s announcement included comments from Senior Vice President Troy Ellis, who oversees Mondelēz’s North America supply chain.

“Our Richmond Biscuit Bakery has been a proud part of our company’s operations for nearly five decades and is geographically well-situated as the hub for our East Coast U.S. biscuit manufacturing,” Ellis said.

“As we focus on leading the future of snacking, our presence in Henrico County continues to play an important part in us creating a best-in-class integrated supply chain which supports our U.S. business both now and for the future.”

Anthony Romanello

Henrico’s economic development authority worked with Virginia Economic Development Partnership to secure the investment. Anthony Romanello, executive director of the Henrico EDA, said it comes at a time of consolidation in other areas of Mondelēz.

“We know that they’ve consolidated some of their facilities across the country, so it’s a real vote of confidence for Henrico and Virginia that they chose to expand here in Henrico,” Romanello said.

The investment is supported by a $1.8 million performance-based grant approved by Gov. Ralph Northam’s office. The incentive is to be paid three years after the company achieves and maintains its pledged capital investment and job creation. Mondelēz also is eligible to receive state benefits from the state’s Enterprise Zone program and a tax credit for full-time jobs created.