The Kerry Group is investing $125 million in a 360,000-square-foot facility in Georgia, according to Food Ingredients First. The project is the Ireland-based company's largest ever capital expenditure investment and will double the production capacity of the current site within the same footprint, the publication reported.
The expansion, to be finished early in 2021, is expected to significantly improve Kerry's capacity in its largest market to meet increasing demand for holistic food solutions, especially in the poultry, seafood and alternative protein markets, the company said.
Kerry added the expanded facility will be using completely renewable electricity and will incorporate a number of other sustainable initiatives, such as no waste to landfills, bulk receiving, and energy-efficient equipment.
Once this expansion project in Georgia is completed next year, Gerry Behan, Kerry Taste & Nutrition global president and CEO, said in a release the facility will be one of the most advanced and modern food manufacturing facilities in the world. He added that since North America is Kerry's largest market, it makes sense for the taste and nutrition firm to add capacity here, which will no doubt also help the company's distribution in Canada.
"We already employ nearly 6,000 people in 70 locations across the region and we are looking forward to growing our footprint in the coming years," Behan said in the release.
This isn't Kerry's only move to expand on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The company has added to its portfolio through M&A activities, including acquiring two U.S. seasonings businesses. The purchase of Ariake USA and Southeastern Mills' North American coating and seasonings business for about $367 million aimed to boost Kerry's technology capacity and beef up its position in foodservice.
Kerry's latest investment in the Georgia facility should enhance its North American functions and capacity even further. The move could also significantly add to the revenue picture of the company, which reported about $3.5 billion in 2019 from its North American taste and nutrition business. Kerry said it expects to add to that performance with target annual organic volume growth of 4% to 6%.
Other global ingredients companies have also been investing in capacity building and making M&A moves to stay competitive. A year ago, New Zealand-based Fonterra bought a minority stake in Boston's Motif Ingredients — later rebranded as Motif FoodWorks — which makes bioengineered animal and food ingredients.
Germany's Symrise said this past November it will open a state-of-the-art application facility at the Unilever Foods Innovation Center at Wageningen University's campus in the Netherlands. Symrise's facility will feature a flavor creation lab, an application kitchen and collaboration rooms.
Whether any of these investments in corporate positioning approaches the $125 million Kerry is spending on one plant expansion isn't clear, but all of these firms are making moves to stay pertinent in the global ingredients game. Changing consumer demand for flavorful and nutritious food is driving growth in the sector, and Kerry's Behan called this trend "a consumer-led food revolution" that, along with environmental challenges, will reshape the entire food industry.