News | June 26, 2024

SunOpta Invests $26M To Expand California Plant-Based Beverage Processing Facility

Minneapolis, MN (BUSINESS WIRE) - SunOpta (Nasdaq:STKL) (TSX:SOY), an innovative and sustainable manufacturer fueling the future of food, today announced it has completed a $26 million expansion at its Modesto, Calif. facility. As the second largest project in the company’s history, the expansion allows SunOpta to increase the amount of oatmilk produced annually by more than 60%, meeting ongoing customer demand and demonstrating SunOpta’s commitment to plant-based beverage production.

Commercially launched in May, SunOpta’s Modesto oat extraction production line uses proprietary enzymatic processes to break down whole oats into a liquid oatbase that will then be used to make oatmilk and other products such as plant-based yogurt and ice cream. The new expansion has created 17 new jobs in the community. SunOpta supplies liquid and dried oatbase as an ingredient to companies large and small, manufactures oatmilk for leading brands and food service operators throughout the country and produces private label oat-based products for many top national retailers.

“Through this significant investment in Modesto to produce more oatbase, we’re well positioned to meet the increasing market demand for plant-based milk and other oat-based products,” said Brian Kocher, CEO of SunOpta. “We are also pleased to bring 17 new positions to our Modesto team and continue making a positive impact in the communities in which we work and live.”

After considering the incremental investment, key features of SunOpta’s Modesto, California newly expanded facility include:

  • 167,684 total square feet of production space
  • 17 new jobs bringing the total Modesto-area employment to 208
  • Reduction of nearly 800,000 freight miles in SunOpta’s network per year

Plant-based milks have been a major focus in recent years at SunOpta, and there is still room to grow. Based on the latest publicly available data and SunOpta's proprietary sales order data, the company estimates the category volume for shelf-stable plant-based milks will grow mid-single digits for calendar year 2024 across all channels combined. Depending on the source, the plant-based milk market is estimated to grow from approximately US$20 billion in 2024 to over US$45 billion by 2034.

SunOpta’s Modesto facility is part of a broader strategy not only for production but also for sustainability. SunOpta’s four aseptic manufacturing plants are strategically located in Modesto, Calif., Allentown, Pa., Alexandria, Minn. and Midlothian, Texas, creating a diamond-shaped national network for distribution. Additionally, the network of regional plants has the potential to reduce more than 15 million freight miles annually and save 59 million pounds of carbon emissions.

SunOpta’s Modesto location works closely with Pacific Gas & Electric, Central Valley Ag and other local municipalities to minimize the environmental footprint of the manufacturing process and looks forward to collaborating with additional local organizations.

“SunOpta loves the Central Valley, and the Central Valley loves SunOpta,” said Joe Gerhardt, senior plant manager. “We are proud to be a leader and partner in the local community for the long term, fueling the future of food.”

In keeping with the company's long-standing tradition of commemorating major milestones with a planting, SunOpta will install a pollinator habitat at its Modesto facility to celebrate the commercialization of its new expansion. This gesture demonstrates its long-term commitment to the community and will be marked at an upcoming ceremony.

About SunOpta, Inc.
SunOpta (Nasdaq:STKL) (TSX:SOY) is an innovative and sustainable manufacturer fueling the future of food. With roots tracing back over 50 years, SunOpta drives growth for today’s leading brands by serving as a trusted innovation partner and value-added manufacturer, crafting organic, plant-based beverages, fruit snacks, nutritional beverages, broths and tea products sold through retail, club, foodservice and e-commerce channels. Alongside the company’s commitment to top brands, retailers and coffee shops, SunOpta also proudly produces its own brands, including SOWN®Dream®, and West Life™. For more information, visit www.sunopta.com and LinkedIn.

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