As major national store brands launch sales of Tifton-developed powdered peanut butter, agricultural products innovator Bell Plantation has announced consolidation of production, packaging and distribution operations in Tifton.
Kroger has signed on to sell the new product in retail grocery stores and outdoor gear innovator REI has begun selling individual packets in stores in 30 states. They join SuperValu and Whole Foods in the sale of Bell Plantation food products.
“Job creation and industrial growth during a recession appear to be the hallmark of Bell Research Companies” Executive Vice President Jill St. John said.
“100,000 Internet customers already confirm the viability and popularity of our product, propelling the immediate need for expansion.”
Bell Plantation’s 109,000 square-foot facility in the Magnolia Industrial Park will expand operations currently located in five cities in three states: Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.
At the ribbon cutting Wednesday, a group of Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce members, Bell Plantation employees and a few local leaders had the opportunity to tour the facility and enjoy some delicious samples of peanut butter crackers.
J.C. Bell of Tifton is founder and chief executive officer. He is a long-time visionary and inventor from an early age. He told The Gazette at the ribbon cutting that he and his wife, Jo, own the vast majority of the business along with 84 stockholders. Also, he noted that they are looking to open a furniture company in the same area as the Bell Plantation facility.
Bell said he’s happy to have the facility in Tifton and is looking forward to being fully operational by the end of this year.
Bell Plantation is making a significant investment into the abatement, repair and renovation of the facility along with an estimated $15 million in production and processing equipment.
The anticipated 350 jobs in the industrial facility will be augmented with additional expansion into downtown Tifton office facilities.
“Investing in our community to create local jobs is vitally important and the request by SuperValu, Whole Foods, Kroger and REI to sell Bell Plantation products indicates growth patterns in 2012 are already stronger than our incredible last three years,” St. John said. “We used innovative practices to launch an all-American business in the midst of a recession, and we’ll stay innovative.”
“Sales doubled in each of the last two years,” St. John noted, thanking the Tift County Development Authority for their foresight to encourage Bell Plantation to invest in the community.
“We’re excited that Bell Plantation is ‘coming home’ to consolidate its operations, providing Tifton with its first food processing facility. Our goal is to provide companies with a business-friendly environment to help them grow and thrive in our community. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Bell Plantation,” stated Brian Marlowe, president/CEO of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce and the Tift County Development Authority.
Four key products of Bell Plantation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bell Research Companies, are:
• PB2 - powdered peanut butter
• PB2 with Premium Chocolate
• Roasted peanut oil
• PB Thins – peanut butter crackers
“We believe the respect we demonstrate in family farmers, the American manufacturing industry and our customers are the reason we have seen 100 percent increase in profitability every year since 2009,” St. John said.
Bell Plantation launched in January of 2007. As operations are consolidated this year, St. John anticipates the addition of technicians, shift supervisors and a line manager plus additional office and sales staff.
“Bell Plantation looks to the future, committing to the creation of new types of food products,” St. John noted.
Powdered peanut butter leads the lineup in more than 3,000 stores across the nation even before the Kroger and REI announcements.
“Commitments from distributors who will expand the market reach to more than 29,000 grocery and specialty stores will be met as production lines expand in Tifton,” St. John said.
PB2 and PB Thins have been featured on the Fox Network’s “Dr. Oz Show,” “Hungry Girl” on the Food Network and NBC’s “Today Show.”
“Our products emphasize health benefits,” St. John pointed out.
PB2 contains 44 percent protein by weight and 45 calories per serving, 85 percent fewer fat calories per serving than traditional peanut butter.
For additional information about Bell Plantation food products, visit www.BellPlantation.com.