Higher Education Resources Support the Food and Beverage Industry in Virginia

Virginia is home to numerous universities and research centers working on cutting-edge innovations that are advancing the food and beverage manufacturing industry. These institutions have a strong track record of closely cooperating with industry partners.

Virginia Tech - Department of Food Science & Technology

Named the No.2 College for Food Science and Nutrition in the U.S. by Niche, the department’s focus areas include food microbiology and safety, food processing and packaging, food chemistry, sensory analysis, food quality, and fermented foods and beverages.

Facilities and research areas include the Food Innovations Program, pilot plants, laboratories, support facilities, and a sensory/flavor testing suite. As a resource for food companies that are start-ups or evaluating new equipment, processes, and product lines, the pilot plants feature flexible, high-bay equipment areas for use in the development of scale-up operations and process/packaging engineering systems.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

VIMS is currently among the largest marine research and education centers in the United States. VIMS researchers help guide and steer aquaculture toward maximum healthy yields and minimal environmental impact. Field and laboratory research at VIMS is key to the recent surge in oyster aquaculture in Virginia. Researchers also study all aspects of the blue crab, with a focus on conservation and a sustainable fishery.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR)

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) engages the resources of Virginia Tech, Danville Community College, Averett University, and other partners to grow innovation and stimulate economic opportunity. IALR proudly promotes sustainable solutions for enhanced agricultural production around the globe with the Plant Endophyte Research Center and access to a live bacteria library with over 2,000 endophytes.

Most recently, IALR has partnered with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech to launch a Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center. The Center will leverage technology and research to accelerate advancements in the developing industry of indoor farming.

Virginia State University (VSU) College of Agriculture

VSU’s College of Agriculture has a number of resources that are useful to the industry. The Food Processing and Engineering Lab focuses on topics related to engineering for food nutrition, quality, and safety, and the application of nanotechnology in foods.

The Food Safety and Microbiology Laboratory focuses on improving the safety and quality of our country’s food supply through research that examines microbial ecology and routes of contamination.

The Agricultural Research Station uses cutting-edge scientific techniques and state-of-the-art facilities to find solutions to diverse issues in agriculture and food production. One recent application has been to partner with Sabra Dipping Company, which operates the largest hummus manufacturing facility in the world in Chesterfield County, to prove the feasibility of growing chickpeas that are ideally suited to Virginia’s climate.