SunOpta, a U.S.-based manufacturer of plant-based and fruit-based food and beverages, is announced the opening of its new plant-based beverage production facility in Midlothian, Texas, bringing as many as 175 new jobs to the area.

The new facility will manufacture the company's entire suite of plant-based milks and creamers, along with tea and other products. Various package sizes and configurations will be produced including 16-oz. and 32-oz. packages typically used in food service, shelf-stable retail, and e-commerce for plant-based milk products, and 330-mL packages used primarily in high-protein nutritional beverages.

“This plant is an important part of SunOpta’s long-term goals and a powerful next step in our company vision,” says Joe Ennen, CEO of SunOpta. “The fully equipped and state-of-the-art facility will enhance our manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. In addition, through innovation and our dedication to sustainability, we can respond to the increasing nationwide demand for plant-based food and beverages.”

By 2025, SunOpta aims to double its plant-based business and has reportedly invested nearly $200 million in its plant-based production capacity in the last three years to support the accelerated growth and developing demand for plant-based milk alternatives. This new Midlothian plant is expected to add capacity and new capabilities to accelerate growth and reduce production costs to serve and meet the growing needs of SunOpta’s customers.

Designed with SunOpta’s sustainability objectives in mind, the new Midlothian plant will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water, efficiently utilize power and use recycled materials, the company says. With the plant strategically placed in Texas, SunOpta says it will 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.

As of now, the new production facility has 285,000 sq. ft., with the capacity to expand to 400,000 sq. ft. to take on future growth. When fully expanded, the facility will be SunOpta's largest plant for plant-based food and beverages.