CHARLOTTESVILLE—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Bonumose, Inc. will partner with Hershey to research and develop reduced or zero sugar chocolate products. The company will invest $27.7 million to expand in Albemarle County.
Bonumose will move into 36,000 square feet of the former State Farm building to expand production capabilities and relocate its existing research and development lab from North Fork—a University of Virginia Discovery Park. Virginia successfully competed with Florida, Idaho, and North Dakota for the project, which will create 64 new jobs.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the growth of Bonumose as it expands production and collaborates with other valued partners in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “This innovative company continues to advance our food and beverage processing industries. We look forward to a long and productive partnership with the company.”
Bonumose developed and patented the methods for continuous production of high-purity rare sugars, such as tagatose and allulose. These sugars come from plant-based feedstock, specifically starch. Earlier this year, The Hershey Company announced it would grow its confections offerings using Bonumose’s products.
Bonumose, Inc. was founded in 2016 in Charlottesville. It is supported by investors and collaborators across the globe. Its cost-effective process makes the use of rare sugars possible. Bonumose uses the starch byproduct left over from its supply chain partners’ food production to develop the sugar. The company is also developing enzyme solutions for dietary supplements, crop protection, animal nutrition, and other industries.
“Virginia businesses continue to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies, and we are proud that Bonumose has chosen to deepen its roots in Albemarle County and take advantage of its supportive business environment and robust talent pipeline,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The company will return a shuttered facility to productive use and create 64 new jobs in Central Virginia, which is exciting news for the region.
“Virginia, and more specifically, Albemarle County, has been important to Bonumose’s growth to date,” said Bonumose Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Ed Rogers. “Several of our employees have been affiliated with the University of Virginia. The Commonwealth’s leading research universities, thriving food production industry, natural beauty, and quality of life in Central Virginia are second-to-none. We are blessed with a skilled workforce in this region and can also recruit talented individuals from anywhere in the world. Access to the world-class Port of Virginia was a consideration, too. Due to Bonumose’s business partners in other states and other countries, we have had opportunities to grow outside Virginia, but we are happy with our choice to deepen our roots here at home.”
“The new Bonumose facility represents a big next step in our commitment to providing consumers better-for-you confection that is both affordable and accessible,” said The Hershey Company Chief Development Officer Kris Meulen. “By bringing together the necessary expertise, capabilities, and resources all under one roof, scaling transformative uses of rare sugar alternatives will become a reality–helping to create new jobs and to reach new consumers.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Albemarle County and the Central Virginia Partnership to secure the project. Governor Northam approved a $256,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Albemarle County with the project. Governor Northam also approved a performance-based grant of $300,000 from the Virginia Investment Performance Grant. The performance grant is an incentive for existing Virginia companies to continue capital investment. Bonumose is eligible to receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.