It should be no surprise that food processing and agri-business is an important and rapidly growing sector of the Columbus County economy. With our rich agricultural heritage, our skilled and ready-to-go workforce, excellent transportation infrastructure and our location in the heart of a growing region, we’re a perfect fit for companies in this industry.
Download the Food Processing Brochure
Growing Strong and Getting Stronger (2mb PDF)
Ag Production / Crops
Agriculture represents a major component of the Columbus County economy, accounting for more than $165 million in annual cash receipts. Current major food crops include corn, oats, peanuts, soybeans, wheat and various fruits. And livestock production includes broilers, hogs and cattle. Looking at the surrounding area you’ll find close to two million acres of farmland in just a 50-mile radius—including some of the most productive agricultural communities in the nation.
Wayne E. Bailey Produce Company has been operating in Columbus County since 1935 and has a primary focus on the sweet potato market. The company has grown significantly since then both inside and outside of the Tar Heel state, and we’re very proud to say that the corporate headquarters are still here – in Chadbourn, NC.
Nice Blends is the latest addition to the Columbus County food processing business community. This company produces Nice Fries® sweet potato fries, Texas Breading® breading mix, and NicePax ® salt and pepper packets. Recently, the company moved its headquarters from the Bronx, NY, to the location here in Whiteville, NC.
Honeycutt Produce is a third-generation family owned wholesale distributor. Based in Chadbourn, Honeycutt is primarily focused on fresh fruits, herbs and exotic vegetables.
Columbus County is proud to be home to four different agricultural festivals. To learn more about each, please click on the links below:
NC Pecan Harvest Festival is held annually in November in Whiteville
NC Yam Festival is held annually in October in Tabor City
NC Strawberry Festival is held annually in May in Chadbourn
NC Watermelon Festival is held annually in July in Fair Bluff
Down East Connect's Online Farmers Fresh Market is a virtual "Farmers Market" linking growers, chefs, and individual buyers. Once orders are placed online, local growers process them, and we deliver them - picked and shipped within 24 hours! The goal of the program is to provide the freshest and most flavorful local produce in a convenient and sustainable manner while promoting the success and future of our local agriculture. To learn more, click here.
Certified Food Site
In 2013, the Southeast Regional Park was evaluated through the rigorous Primus Builders, Inc./Garner Economics, LLC certified food site program. On November 15, 2013, the Southeast Regional Park was awarded a certificate that attests that the Park "has met or exceeded the rigorous standards necessary to be a Certified Food Site . . . and that the site is an ideal location for food and beverage processing, cold storate or food disbribution facilities." We are proud to say that Columbus County has the first certified food site in North Carolina!
Click here for the full Certified Food Site Report by Primus Builders, Inc./Garner Economics, LLC.