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Cardinal Foods Plans Pender County, North Carolina, Operations Expansion

Cardinal Foods, a Burgaw agribusiness company that provides products and services across the eastern U.S., will expand at its operations in Pender County, North Carolina. The $15.5 million project is expected to create 48 new jobs.

The current expansion, which will double the facility’s workforce, involves the production of sweet potato French fries to fill growing market demand in the U.S. and abroad.

“We are excited about the opportunity the future holds for Cardinal Foods and the region’s agriculture community,” said Corey Barnhill, Cardinal Foods president and CEO. “This expansion will close the gap in offering North Carolina growers a viable solution for processing their crops and open up global markets that were limited previously.”

Cardinal will rely on raw materials supplied by farmers in North Carolina, which has led the nation in sweet potato production since 1971. In 2019, the state produced two billion pounds of sweet potatoes, about 61 percent of total U.S. production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A performance-based grant of $50,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate Cardinal Foods’ expansion in Pender County. The One N.C. Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One N.C. grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

“Cardinal Foods is a home-grown company connecting North Carolina farmers to quality-minded consumers around the world,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Sanders. “The company’s success demonstrates how our state’s productive soils and productive people create a global competitive edge for value-added agribusiness operations.”

The N.C. Department of Commerce worked closely with the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) to lead a collaborative effort to support Cardinal Foods’ choice of Pender County for this expansion. Other key partners in the project include the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Pender County, the Town of Burgaw and Wilmington Business Development (WBD).

Founded in Burgaw in 2017, Cardinal Foods processes blueberries, sweet potatoes and butternut squash harvested primarily by North Carolina farmers. The company also provides product development, marketing and distribution services. Its foods are sold to both national consumer brands and leading grocery retailers.

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