SunOpta—a plant-based food and beverage pioneer with headquarters in Minneapolis—has opened a new, $125 million high-tech production facility in Midlothian. The 285,000-square-feet “mega” plant has the capacity for future expansion to 400,000 square feet, and is bringing up to 175 new jobs to the region.
The new facility will manufacture SunOpta’s entire suite of plant-based milks and creamers, including its Sown, Dream, and West Life brands, along with tea and other products. Various package sizes will be produced,including pint and quart-sized packages used in food service, shelf-stable retail, and e-commerce for plant-based milk products, and 330-milliliter packages used primarily in SunOpta’s high-protein nutritional beverages, the company said.
A $7.5 million incentive package helped snag the plant for Midlothian
The city of Midlothian and Ellis County approved a $7.5 million incentive package to help snag the plant, including a grant from Midlothian Economic Development and an eight-year tax abatement.
‘Ideal’ location gives SunOpta a diamond-shaped national network
Why did SunOpta choose North Texas for the new plant? Location, location, says Lauren McNamara, VP and assistant GM of plant-based food and beverage for SunOpta.
“In combination with SunOpta’s plant locations in California, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, the Texas location creates a competitively advantaged and strategic ‘diamond-shaped’ national network for national distribution,” McNamara told Dallas Innovates.
“Through innovation and our dedication to sustainability, we can now even better respond to the increasing nationwide demand for plant-based food and beverages through this ideal location in Midlothian,” she added.
Plant will deliver innovation and sustainability—saving 20M gallons of water a year
The new Midlothian plant was designed with SunOpta’s sustainability objectives in mind, McNamara told us.
“The plant will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water, efficiently utilize power, and use recycled materials,” she said. “With the plant strategically placed in Texas, SunOpta will also significantly reduce emissions through lower transportation usage. The plant’s regional location will reduce more than 15 million freight miles annually and save 59 million pounds of carbon emissions.”
:In addition, the facility is equipped with water reuse equipment that can save up to 20 million gallons of water a year, an energy-efficient HVAC system that reduces energy consumption by 45%, LED lights and water heaters that reduce power usage by 95%, and offices and labs constructed with at least 40% recyclable materials.”
Aiming to double SunOpta’s plant-based business by 2025
McNamara calls the new plant “a powerful next step” in SunOpta’s company vision to meet “increasing national demand” for plant-based food and beverages.
“SunOpta aims to double our plant-based business, and as such we have invested nearly $200 million in our plant-based production capacity in the last three years to support the accelerated growth and developing demand for plant-based milk alternatives,” McNamara said. “This new Midlothian plant adds capacity and new capabilities to further accelerate growth and reduce production costs to serve and meet the growing needs of SunOpta’s customers.”
When the new local plant expands to full capacity in the future, it “will become SunOpta’s largest plant for plant-based food and beverages” nationwide, McNamara added.
Not just for SunOpta—producing for other brands and baristas, too
Those cartons flying through the production lines won’t all be SunOpta brands. The company is also doing contract manufacturing at the Midlothian plant, “making the most recognized brands that anyone can find on grocery store shelves or used by baristas in their favorite coffee shops,” McNamara said.
The facility will be overseen by senior plant manager Anil Neti.
SunOpta says it is working closely with the city of Midlothian and other key partners to minimize the environmental footprint of its manufacturing processes.
Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.
Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.