Agriculture Sec, DCED Sec visit Newville’s Reykjavik Creamery

06 February 2024- Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger and Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited high-tech food manufacturer Reykjavik Creamery in Newville to highlight the important role of agriculture in the new Pennsylvania Economic Development Strategy — the first plan of its kind to guide the Commonwealth in almost 20 years. 

The new economic development strategy will capitalize on the Commonwealth’s strengths and reignite our economy by focusing on the Agriculture, Energy, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, and Robotics and Technology sectors. Pennsylvania is a national leader in agricultural products including dairy, fruit, livestock, poultry, forest products, and more.

“Agriculture has been, and will continue to be, a crucial component of Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Secretary Siger. “As we implement this new plan, we will ensure the Commonwealth continues as a national leader in agriculture, and make sure the industry continues to thrive well into the future. This strategy will lead to real economic growth for Pennsylvania businesses and more opportunity for our workers.”

As one of Pennsylvania’s legacy industries, agriculture’s economic impact is prevalent across the state:

  • Livestock and poultry production and processing in South Central, Lehigh Valley, and Southeast regions.
  • Dairy production in the Northwest, South Central, and Northern Tier regions.
  • Animal food manufacturing across the state, with hubs in the Central, Lehigh Valley, Northern Tier, Northwest, and South Central regions.
  • Snack food, beverage, and confectionery product manufacturing with hubs in South Central, Central, Northeast, and Lehigh Valley regions.
  • Forest product manufacturing in the Northern Tier, Northwest, and North Central regions.
  • Mushroom manufacturing in South Central and the Southeast regions

Agriculture contributes $132.5 billion annually to Pennsylvania’s economy. The Commonwealth ranks first nationally in organic poultry production, first in organic mushroom production, third in overall organic sales, and is the fourth largest producer of food products.

Secretaries Siger and Redding toured Reykjavik Creamery, a high-tech food manufacturing facility that specializes in premium cultured artisan dairy products. The company’s 30,000-square-foot facility creates specialized dairy products, including strained yogurt called skyr —  otherwise known as Icelandic style yogurt.

“As the CEO of Reykjavik Creamery, I am delighted to commend Governor Shapiro for his insightful recognition of the crucial economic role played by agriculture and dairy processing in Pennsylvania,” said Gunnar Birgisson, CEO, Reykjavik Creamery.  “As a relatively new dairy processing facility specializing in contract manufacturing, we are experiencing encouraging growth prospects in the state. Consequently, we wholeheartedly embrace the Governor’s initiative and are committed to actively participating in the creation of opportunities. Our focus includes the development and production of new and innovative high-protein dairy products in collaboration with our clients. We are prepared to make the necessary investments to ensure sustained long-term support for this growth. We look forward to contributing to Pennsylvania’s thriving agricultural and dairy landscape under Governor Shapiro’s forward-thinking leadership.”

Also participating in today’s event were the Painterland Sisters, Hayley and Stephanie Painter, fourth-generation dairy farmers from Tioga County who produce Painterland Sisters organic skyr yogurt, and Daniyar Chukin, CEO of Norr Organic, a New York-based company which produces probiotic skyr yogurt. Both companies’ products are manufactured at Reykjavik Creamery.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our communities nationwide, and Pennsylvania farmers and producers are a key force in fueling our future,” said Hayley Painter, Co-Founder, Painterland Sisters. “I am proud to be a fourth-generation Pennsylvania dairy farmer, as well as the co-founder of one of the fastest-growing yogurt brands in our country based right here in PA. Our mission at Painterland Sisters is to connect consumers with the source of their food, the American Farmer. Empowering Pennsylvania agriculture both boosts our economy and creates transformative opportunities in both rural communities and cities alike. This plan encourages synergistic relationships amongst our entire commonwealth.”

Ryan Unger, President and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC was also on-hand today to show support for the new economic strategy.

“We applaud Governor Shapiro’s leadership and support of economic development with the announcement of the Pennsylvania Economic Development Strategy,” said Unger. “With the resources outlined in the plan, along with the engagement and support of our private sector and economic development partners, we are excited about Pennsylvania’s economic future. Our region and commonwealth’s abundance of assets are ready to be catalyzed. We are excited to work with Governor Shapiro, Secretary Siger, and their team to get it done.”

Pennsylvania has a strong foundation for the new economic development strategy, including: our proximity to major U.S. markets and relative low cost of doing business; the more than 23 Fortune 500 companies and over 1 million small businesses in the Commonwealth; 190,000 skilled graduates produced by our colleges and universities every year; a diverse, talented workforce, and much more.