USA – SunOpta, a multinational food company focused on the processing and marketing of plant-based food and beverages, has opened its new US$125 million production site specially tailored to produce plant-based dairy products in an environmentally friendly way.

The facility will create about 175 new jobs for the residents of Midlothian, Texas and will allow the company to double its production capacity by 2025, in which it has invested US$200 million so far.

The strategic positioning of the new factory is intended to support the company’s sustainability initiatives through more efficient power use, water conservation and the use of recycled materials in labs and offices which will result in the reduction of carbon emissions.

The site is also positioned in a way that will minimize transport needs. According to the company, the site will reduce more than 15 million freight miles annually, saving nearly 60 million pounds of CO2.

Water usage in the facility is also anticipated to drop by 20 million gallons per year while its energy is expected to drop by 45%.

In combination with SunOpta’s plants in California, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, the site’s Texas location also creates a competitively advantaged, “diamond-shaped” national network for the national distribution of the company’s products.

The site is currently 285,000 square feet and has the capacity to be expanded to 400,000 square feet according to the company’s future growth plans.

Once fully operational at full capacity, SunOpta says it will be the company’s largest plant-based food and beverage facility in operation.

An important part of SunOpta’s long-term goals

“This plant is an important part of SunOpta’s long-term goals and a powerful next step in our company vision,” Joe Ennen, CEO of SunOpta, said in a statement.

The mega facility will manufacture the company’s entire suite of plant-based products, such as teas, milk and creamers and other products.

The products will be packaged into various package sizes and configurations which will be produced by the company, these will include 16-ounce and 32-ounce packages that are typically used in food service, shelf-stable retail and e-commerce for plant-based milk products

“The fully-equipped and state-of-the-art facility will enhance our manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. In addition, through innovation and our dedication to sustainability, we can respond to the increasing nationwide demand for plant-based food and beverages,” Ennen said.

The company works as a co-packer for several brands such as Costco’s Kirkland label, and also offers its own-label product ranges like Sown, Dream, West Life, and Sunrise Growers.

SunOpta acquired vegan milk brands Westsoy and Rice Dream for a total of US$33 million, which are now rebranded as West Life and Dream.

The two brands are also expected to play a vital role in SunOpta’s production expansion plans.

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