A major non-dairy milk producer has unveiled a major UK investment plan out of their Burton Latimer factory, boosted by a soaring demand for alternative plant-based products.
Alpro opened its Burton Latimer in 2000 and with the new investment, the factory will produce up to 300 million litres of plant-based drinks a year, including soya, oat, coconut and rice.
Based in Altendiez Way, the site will see around £41m invested in the facility with the latest leg of investment including a new £17m high-speed line and state-of-the-art equipment that each reduce energy, water and CO2 usage.
Owned by Danone, plant-based pioneer, Alpro will now be able to ramp up production capacity for its plant-based products destined for UK shoppers, enhance its sustainability credentials and create 25 additional jobs locally, with opportunities for future growth
General manager for Alpro, Sue Garfitt, said: "As the plant-based category leader, we’ve been blazing a trail in sustainable production for more than 40 years, and there’s no question that this significant investment in our UK site is the latest example of that.
“The changes we are installing will not only accelerate the volume of products we are producing in the UK, for UK shoppers - but will also allow us to keep ahead of the curve and continue being the brand to fuel the category growth and whet the nation’s appetite for delicious and healthy plant-based products, and of course, doing this whilst operating in a planet-friendly way.”
The latest investment comprises a new £17m high-speed production facility along with a state-of-art trigeneration unit and water treatment plant that will reduce energy consumption, CO2 emissions and water usage across the site.
On hand at the official opening of the new high-speed production line was MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone, mayor of Burton Latimer Cllr Nigel Padget and councillors Larry Henson and Jenny Henson.
The plant-based and dairy-free markets have grown exponentially and are now worth £636m.
The new high-speed production facility is set to increase production capacity to 300 million litres of soya, oat, rice and coconut drinks a year with further planned investment, a number which is set to increase to up to 400 million litres as early as 2022.
Currently, all of the fresh and three-quarters of UHT Alpro 1L drinks created on-site in Burton Latimer are sold to UK shoppers.
As part of the investment, Alpro has installed a new, state-of-the-art combined cooling, heat and power unit (CCHP, or ‘trigeneration’) to simultaneously generate electricity, useful heating and cooling from the combustion of gas – resulting in a more efficient use of primary energy. This move allows the factory – which runs on 100 per cent renewable electricity – to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
The site also boasts a new water treatment plant, that cuts water usage and results in 218 m3 of water being reused on site every day – enough to fill more than an Olympic-sized swimming pool each week.
Ms Garfitt said: “As a committed B Corp business, our environmental impact matters in everything that we do, so we are proud to be making this positive progress in further reducing our planetary footprint. We’ve made leaps and bounds across our product portfolio, including reducing our packaging usage and striving for 100 per cent recyclable packaging and 100 per cent plant-based or recycled materials by 2025, so it’s vital that our sustainable initiatives are also being reflected in our sustainable manufacturing processes.”
More than 200 people are employed at the factory, with many of its skilled workers hailing from the surrounding areas of Corby, Kettering and Burton Latimer and the workforce will be boosted by a further 25 employees hired to meet the increase in capacity.
Ms Garfitt said: “We’ve been operating in Kettering for more than 20 years, and we’re continuing to invest in the local community as part of our commitment to produce more for the UK, close to home. With this latest expansion, we’re proud to be increasing our workforce and with our ongoing investment we hope to create further local employment opportunities.
“The best part of our story is that there’s never been a better time to choose plant-based, not only for the health of the planet but also the nation. There is a growing consensus among policy makers, scientists and international organisations that eating more plant-based is a fundamental part of the solution for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
“We are at a pivotal moment and this proves there’s more reason than ever before to make the switch to plant-based foods for health.
“That’s because plant-based foods tend to be full of fibre, heart healthy - generally low in saturated fat – and packed with a wide range of vitamins and minerals.”