SunOpta Once Again Expanding in the Lehigh Valley
By Colin McEvoy on February 2, 2021
SunOpta Inc., a leading global healthy food and beverage company focused on plant- and fruit-based foods and beverages, is once again expanding in the Lehigh Valley.
The company announced on Feb. 1 that it will be further expanding the capacity of its Upper Macungie Township facility, a continuation of a series of expansions and added capacity that has been occurring at the facility over the last six years.
“I’m pleased to announce the further expansion of our plant-based foods and beverages production capacity,” said SunOpta CEO Joe Ennen.
The expansion is expected to come online in the fourth quarter of 2021. Additional details about the project were not immediately available.
“SunOpta has quickly become one of the most exciting companies in the Lehigh Valley,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “We are grateful that SunOpta has continued to find success here and continues to grow and expand its operations in the Lehigh Valley.”
Ennen said the expansion follows the completion of three large projects in the fourth quarter of 2020 to accelerate the growth of the company’s plant-based business.
“We remain pleased with our sales pipeline efforts to deliver $100 million of revenue growth by the end of 2022 from the three 2020 projects,” he said. “This additional capacity will ensure that we are well positioned to support our customers’ growth in 2022 and beyond.”
In its Q3 2020 earning report, SunOpta noted that simultaneously with its expansion plans, its plants in Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley), Kansas and Holland have been setting “production records” while the company has carefully managed all of the challenges related to COVID-19 prevention in its plants.
“To date, we continue to have zero confirmed cases of community transmitted COVID-19,” the report stated. “This accomplishment is something we are all very proud of, as employee safety is our top priority.”
SunOpta is a leading company specializing in the sourcing, processing, and production of organic, natural and non-GMO plant- and fruit-based food and beverage product. With its global headquarters in Canada and its U.S. headquarters in Minnesota, the company employs more than 1,400 employees in three countries.
LVEDC had previously assisted SunOpta in other expansion projects as this facility, including a $25 million expansion to add aseptic beverage processing and filling capabilities to the plant in 2015.
LVEDC held a series of meetings with SunOpta to assist them on technical issues related to the 2015 expansion. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Action Team, a group of economic development professionals from the state who work in collaboration with LVEDC, had offered an incentive package for that project.
SunOpta also announced plans in August 2018 to expand once again on the Lehigh Valley facility’s aseptic processing and packaging capacity, a $22 million project that created 30 jobs and added two new aseptic processing lines, according to the company’s annual report.
The new plans to expand in Lehigh Valley were announced simultaneously with SunOpta’s plans to close its frozen fruit processing plant in Santa Maria, Calif. The company said these initiatives are part of “a multi-year supply chain optimization strategy to support our growth plans.”
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