TORONTO, ONTARIO--SunOpta Inc. (SunOpta) (Nasdaq:STKL)(TSX:SOY) today announced that it has successfully completed the second phase of its expansion of Canadian Harvest(R) Oat Fiber production capacity at its Cambridge, Minnesota facility. As previously announced, the second phase of this expansion, when combined with the first phase which was previously completed in December 2003, increases fiber processing capacity by approximately 65% versus the same time a year ago. Total cost for the first two expansion phases is estimated at $1.2 million.
The Cambridge facility continues to operate on a seven day, 24 hour basis and has been expanded to meet the substantial increase in the demand for oat fiber due in part to demands for high fiber products, concerns over obesity and the popularity of the Atkins and other low carbohydrate diets. Canadian Harvest(R) Oat Fibers are very low in available carbohydrates and calories. When added to bakery products, the fibers allow for the production of high fiber and low carbohydrate breads, pastries, muffins, bagels, tacos and tortillas. Oat fiber is also used in other categories such as dairy, meat and snack food products.
The Company continues to assess operational capabilities at both the Cambridge and Louisville, Kentucky facilities in an effort to further expand production and optimize processing capabilities.
SunOpta Inc. is an owner/operator of high-growth ethical businesses, focusing on integrated business models in the natural and organic food markets. For the last five consecutive years, SunOpta was included in Profit magazine's 'Profit 100' list of the 100 fastest growing companies in Canada. The company has three business units: the SunOpta Food Group, which specializes in sourcing, processing and distribution of natural and organic food products integrated from seed through packaged products; the Opta Minerals Group, a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally friendly industrial materials; and the StakeTech Steam Explosion Group that engineers and markets clean pulping systems using patented steam explosion technology. Each of these business units has proprietary products and services that give it a solid competitive advantage in its sector.