Organic Foods Company Undertaking Major Expansion in the Lehigh Valley
By Colin McEvoy on May 19, 2015
A leading global company focused on natural, organic and specialty food products is expanding in the Lehigh Valley.
SunOpta Inc. is undertaking a $25 million expansion that will add aseptic beverage processing and filling capabilities to its existing Upper Macungie Township facility, according to developer J.G. Petrucci Co., which first announced the news on May 19.
The project, which was supported by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), is expected to create 48 jobs and retain 52 existing jobs.
“The expansion of our integrated aseptic platform aligns with our strategy to aggressively grow our value added consumer packaged foods portfolio,” said Steve Bromley, SunOpta CEO.
“Demand for aseptically-processed healthy beverages continues to grow as consumers focus on health and wellness, and we are well positioned to participate in these fast growing categories,” Bromley said. “This expansion will enhance our North American aseptic processing footprint, increase capacity and allow us to better serve our customer portfolio.”
LVEDC has been involved with this project since September, and has held a series of meetings with SunOpta to assist them on technical issues related to the expansion.
Additionally, Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Action Team, a group of economic development professionals from the state who work in collaboration with LVEDC, offered an incentive package for this project.
SunOpta undertook the expansion to meet continued customer demand for aseptically processed healthy beverages, according to the company. The Upper Macungie Township manufacturing facility currently produces re-sealable pouch products.
The Lehigh Valley is a statewide leader in the beverage manufacturing sector, according to a previous LVEDC analysis. Lehigh County is home to more beverage companies than any of the other 66 counties in the state of Pennsylvania.
Food and beverage processing has been identified as one of the four target industry sectors for the Lehigh Valley based on the site-specific characteristics of the regional economy, as identified by an economic development study LVEDC commissioned from the Atlanta-based Garner Economics, LLC.
SunOpta’s current facilities with aseptic processing and filling capabilities are located in Modesto, Calif., and Alexandia, Minn. Combined with the new Lehigh Valley expansion, SunOpta is now expected to be one of the largest integrated healthy beverage processing platforms in North America, according to J.G. Petrucci Co.
“We are thrilled to serve not only as the owner of SunOpta Inc.’s existing manufacturing facility, but also as the design/build firm of an expansion that provides the company with the ability to meet consumer demands of natural, organic products,” said Martin Till, Petrucci regional president.
The SunOpta expansion includes additional processing rooms, mechanical infrastructure, and an aseptic line to support the company’s new product line of aseptically processed healthy beverages, which includes organic soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk.
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