June 3/Toronto, Ontario/Prime Newswire -- SunOpta Inc. intends to construct a production facility in Modesto, Calif., to produce and package organic aseptic soymilk and other aseptic beverages. Demand for organic soymilk and other beverages from SunOpta's vertically integrated aseptic packaging operations continues to grow via existing customers, combined with identified and contracted new business opportunities. With this new plant, the company continues to execute on its strategy of expanding its processing and packaging capabilities in strategic geographic areas in order the meet needs of a growing international customer base. The new facility is expected to be operational in May 2009, significantly expanding the company's processing and packaging capacities.

Allan Routh, president of the SunOpta Grains and Foods Group, commented, "The expansion of our soymilk portfolio, especially into the foodservice market, requires us to expand our production capabilities to meet customer demands and accommodate continued 20% annual growth in our core organic soymilk and alternate beverages portfolios. Strategically, this additional facility will enable SunOpta to geographically leverage our vertically integrated soymilk model and provide our customers with a cost effective and quality product, while at the same time driving social, economic and environmental sustainability via geographic production in close proximity to consumers and reduced packaging waste and distribution costs. The new Modesto facility, when combined with the aseptic packaging facility in Alexandria, Minn., will bring total production capacity to approximately 250 to 300 million quarts of soymilk and other beverages per year once the new facility is fully operational."

SunOpta's vertically integrated soymilk model is integrated from soy bean sourcing through to packaged products, ensuring SunOpta's control of quality and organic certification and providing direct traceability from the farm gate to the retail shelf. Soy beans are initially sourced and processed at SunOpta's facilities in Hope and Moorhead, Minn., and are also processed at other third-party locations. The processed soy beans are then delivered to SunOpta's ingredient plants in Alexandria, Minn., Heuvelton, N.Y., and Afton, Wyo., where they are converted into liquid concentrated soy base and other soy-based food ingredients. The concentrated soy base is then transported to SunOpta's aseptic packaging facility and third party co-pack partners for blending, packaging and subsequent delivery to our customers. The new facility will further enhance these capabilities via the expansion of operations to the Southwest of the United States.

From the June 9, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash