SunOpta Inc. ("SunOpta" or "the Company") (Nasdaq:STKL) (TSX:SOY), a leading global company focused on natural, organic and specialty foods and natural health products, announced that it intends to further expand its vertically integrated non-dairy beverage processing and packaging capabilities with the expansion of the Company's Modesto, California operations.
The expansion will include the addition of further processing technologies which are expected to leverage existing packaging capabilities at the operation and increase the capacity at the Modesto plant by approximately 40%, and the Company's overall aseptic non-dairy beverage and broth capacity by approximately 10%. The expansion will commence in the fourth quarter of 2011 with full capacity expected to be on-line early in the third quarter of 2012.
The expansion is required to meet growing demand for aseptic non-dairy beverages, broths and soups from existing customers, plus accommodate the production of new private label non-dairy beverages that are scheduled to be launched with a large club format retailer in early 2012.
SunOpta's vertically integrated non-dairy beverage capabilities utilize operations integrating raw material sourcing through ingredient production and finished packaged products, ensuring control of quality and organic certification and providing traceability from the farm gate to the retail shelf. Current production capabilities include natural and organic soymilks, rice beverages, almond beverages, hemp milk and broths, plus the Company's recently launched sunflower beverage which is being sold under the SoL(TM) brand name. Once this capacity expansion is completed the Company will have production capacity of between 250 and 300 million quarts of non-dairy beverages and broths, dependent upon product mix.
SoL(TM) sunflower beverage is a delicious new addition to the non-dairy beverage category that is made from wholesome sunflower seeds grown on American family farms. SunOpta is one of the largest processors of confection sunflower seeds in the world and the development of a sunflower beverage adds further value to and extends the Company's vertically integrated production capabilities.
SoL(TM) sunflower beverage is naturally free of the eight most common food allergens, which include soy, dairy, wheat and tree nuts. SoL(TM) also provides an excellent source of Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Calcium, Vitamin D and Phosphorus. Each 8 oz. serving provides 50% of the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin E, 30% for Calcium, 25% for Vitamin D and 20% for Folic Acid. The product is available in shelf stable, aseptic 32 ounce Tetra Pak containers and comes in three flavors: Vanilla, Original, and Unsweetened and is currently distributed nationwide through United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) and is available in supermarkets such as Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets.
About SunOpta Inc.
SunOpta Inc. is a leading global company focused on natural, organic and specialty foods and natural health products. The company specializes in sourcing, processing and packaging of natural and organic food products, integrated from seed through packaged products; with a focus on strategically vertically integrated business models. The Company's core natural and organic food operations focus on value-added grains, fiber and fruit based product offerings, supported by a global infrastructure. The company has two non-core holdings, a 66.4% ownership position in Opta Minerals Inc. (a Toronto Stock Exchange listed company), a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally friendly industrial materials; and a minority ownership position in Mascoma Corporation, an innovative biofuels company.