Freshpet Breaks Ground on New Lehigh Valley Expansion Project
By Colin McEvoy on June 25, 2019
Freshpet’s mission is to improve the lives of dogs and cats through the power of fresh, real food. So it’s only fitting that the company got some of its canine customers to help them celebrate its new expansion project.
Freshpet held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 25 to mark the construction of its second Freshpet Kitchen facility in Hanover Township, Northampton County, a project that is expected to create as many as 200 jobs and increase production of the company’s signature fresh pet food.
But they didn’t use shovels for the groundbreaking. Instead, they invited dogs to come out and dig up the first hole to inaugurate construction.
“At Freshpet, it’s not just what we make, but how we make it that sets us apart,” Billy Cyr, CEO of Freshpet, said to a crowd of about 130 people at the groundbreaking. “Freshpet strives to improve the lives of pets, people, and the planet with everything we do.”
Don Cunningham, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), was among the speakers at the event. He praised the expansion as an example of the type of regional success stories LVEDC has been promoting as part of its Made Possible in Lehigh Valley initiative.
“Manufacturing is the second-largest sector in the Lehigh Valley economy, and for a long time we’ve been known for having Martin Guitar, Mack Trucks, and Crayola here,” Cunningham said. “We are now also increasingly becoming known as the place where Freshpet products made, and we are as proud of Freshpet being here and growing here as we are of those other internationally-known brands.”
The new site will be located at 146 North Commerce Way, part of the campus on which Freshpet’s current Kitchen resides. The project will include the renovation of an existing 50,000 square foot building on the campus, and the addition of 90,000 square feet to that building.
The new Freshpet Kitchen is scheduled to begin operation in the third quarter of 2020, Cyr said. Freshpet estimates hiring about 100 employees by the time that production begins, then another 100 employees when the Kitchens are operating at full capacity.
“The expansion of the Freshpet Kitchens campus reflects our commitment to continually improving the way we make Freshpet, and will help us achieve our goal of changing the way people feed their pets,” Cyr said. “This new Kitchen will significantly expand our capacity and enable us to satisfy more pets while simultaneously improving quality, cost and safety.”
Freshpet was awarded a $100,000 job creation grant from the Northampton County Industrial Development Authority, for which LVEDC provides administrative services.
Freshpet, which was the featured company at LVEDC’s Fall Signature Event last year, has experienced continuous growth since moving to Lehigh Valley six years ago. In 2015, the company broke ground on an expansion that doubled its capacity there. The following year, it also opened a new research and development center in the township.
Freshpet has nearly doubled its sales every three years since 2009, with more than 2.5 million households feeding Freshpet today, Cyr said. Freshpet can be found in more than 20,000 refrigerators across the U.S., U.K., and Canada and in large retailers like Walmart, Target, Petco, and PetSmart.
Food and beverage processing has been identified as one of the four optimal target industries for the Lehigh Valley based on the site-specific characteristics of the regional economy. The others are high-performance manufacturing, high value business services, and life science research & manufacturing.
Freshpet foods are blends of fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits farmed locally and made in Lehigh Valley. The foods are prepared using natural ingredients, cooked in small batches at lower temperatures to preserve the natural goodness of the ingredients
The new Freshpet Kitchen is designed to further improve the quality of the company’s foods and also offer significant safety enhancements to ensure that Freshpet team members continue to work in the best possible environment, Cyr said.
Similar to the existing Freshpet Kitchen, the site will recycle all rainwater and will be powered by wind power credits. Freshpet is dedicated to environmentally sustainable business practices, Cyr said, operates its kitchens at zero-waste-to-landfill and using 100% wind energy.
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