Keurig Dr Pepper’s 1.5-million-sq.-ft. production facility and distribution center in Allentown, Pa., has been named the 2021 Food Engineering Plant of the Year.

The facility, which broke ground in June 2019 and came online in early January 2021, consists of an 811,000-sq.-ft. production facility and a 729,000-sq.-ft. regional distribution center. The project was honored for its high level of automation, innovative solutions to meet the company’s aggressive sustainability commitments and future expansion needs, and the nimbleness required to complete such a large project in a short timeframe while overcoming a six-week construction shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Given the challenges facing the industry during the ongoing pandemic, it is remarkable how many great projects were completed during the timeframe for this year’s award,” says Food Engineering Editor-in-Chief Casey Laughman. “The Keurig Dr Pepper plant showcases a commitment to design, construction and operating excellence, and it would be a remarkable achievement to bring such a large facility online in a short time under normal circumstances, much less with the challenges the industry has faced over the last year.”

Keurig Dr Pepper partnered with the Dennis Group to design and build the plant. Dennis Group also won the 2020 Plant of the Year award for its work on J.M. Smucker Co.’s production facility in Longmont, Colo.

“We’re thrilled that our Allentown plant is being recognized as a leading facility among food and beverage peers,” says Fernando Cortes, chief supply chain officer for Keurig Dr Pepper. “A cross-functional team at Keurig Dr Pepper, along with our partners, truly delivered a design that is forward-thinking, integrates sustainability throughout and efficiently delivers the quality beverages our consumers love.”

Cuisine Solutions was named winner of the 2021 Sustainable Plant of the Year for its plant in San Antonio. The 315,000-sq.-ft. LEED-certified plant—the largest sous vide plant in the world—was honored for its innovative approach to sustainability, including solar panels that return electricity to the local grid, aggressive water and storm water management, and traceable life-cycle information for a number of products and materials throughout the plant.

The plant was a successful collaboration between Cuisine Solutions engineers and chefs and the architectural team at Stellar. Stellar served as the builder, while Cambridge Development Group was the developer of the project.

“This new state-of-the art sous vide manufacturing facility reflects our vision to create the best and most innovative food company in the world utilizing the sous vide technology,” says Stanislas Vilgrain, founder & chairman of Cuisine Solutions. “Our food is made to consistently be the safest, cleanest and most enjoyable food you can buy, and this facility reinforces that. Our plant affords our workforce a friendly and safe environment that values its impact on the community, as well as the planet, and ultimately delivers a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 0. We look to set a standard of sustainability for years to come.”

Keurig Dr Pepper’s winning plant will be featured in the August issue of Food Engineering. Cuisine Solutions’ winning plant will be featured in the October issue. The Plant of the Year and Sustainable Plant of the Year awards will be presented at the Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference in September.