Keurig Dr Pepper Named 2021 Food Engineering Plant of the Year

By Colin McEvoy on April 19, 2021

Keurig Dr Pepper’s 1.5 million square-foot production facility located in Upper Macungie Township.

Keurig Dr Pepper’s 1.5 million square-foot production facility in Upper Macungie Township has been named 2021 Plant of the Year by a prominent magazine that covers food and beverage companies and topics in the United States.

The state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution facility, established at the site of a former Kraft-Heinz plant, was honored for its high level of automation and innovative solutions to meet the company’s aggressive sustainability commitments and future expansion needs.

It was also recognized for the nimbleness required to complete such a large project in a short timeframe while overcoming a six-week construction shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Food Engineering magazine.

Keurig Dr Pepper broke ground on the facility in June 2019 and came online in early January 2021. It consists of an 811,000 square-foot production facility and a 729,000 square-foot regional distribution center.

“Given the challenges facing the industry during the ongoing pandemic, it is remarkable how many great projects were completed during the timeframe for this year’s award,” said Food Engineering Editor-in-Chief Casey Laughman.

“The Keurig Dr Pepper plant showcases a commitment to design, construction and operating excellence, and it would be a remarkable achievement to bring such a large facility online in a short time under normal circumstances, much less with the challenges the industry has faced over the last year,” Laughman said.

Keurig Dr Pepper announced in September 2019 that it would invest $219.7 million into the facility in the Park 100 Logistics Center, and pledged to create at least 378 new jobs over the following three years.

“We’re thrilled that our Allentown plant is being recognized as a leading facility among food and beverage peers,” Fernando Cortes, chief supply chain officer for Keurig Dr Pepper, said of the recognition by Food Engineering.

“A cross-functional team at Keurig Dr Pepper, along with our partners, truly delivered a design that is forward-thinking, integrates sustainability throughout and efficiently delivers the quality beverages our consumers love,” Cortes said.

Keurig Dr Pepper partnered with the Dennis Group to design and build the plant. The facility and the award it won will be featured in the August issue of Food Engineering.

When Keurig Dr Pepper first announced the facility, it was celebrated as another example of the remarkable growth of the region’s food and beverage processing sector, which has been identified as one of the region’s four optimal target industries.

Food and beverage processing is also a key component of the Lehigh Valley’s manufacturing sector, which contributes $7.1 billion to the Lehigh Valley’s $43.4 billion gross domestic product, making it the second largest sector in the regional economy.

“The Lehigh Valley has become widely identifiable as a region that produces high-value manufactured goods, with a quality labor force and the regional assets necessary to attract the talent for tomorrow,” Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), said at the time of the Keurig Dr Pepper announcement.

When Kraft-Heinz closed its 908,000 square-foot facility in 2016, Cunningham and LVEDC expressed optimism that the site would find another use quickly. The closing was the result of Heinz’s acquisition of and merger with Kraft, and was not the result of a market trend or the regional economy.

Additionally, the site is in the prime food and beverage corridor with quick access to Interstate 78, rail service and access to pre-treatment wastewater facilities.

Food Engineering covers the food processing industry including topics on plant operations, food packaging technology, U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, HACCP, food safety, and more, according to the magazine.

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