December 5/Toronto/GlobeNewswire -- SunOpta Inc. provided an update on the expansion and addition of value-added processing capabilities in two of its operating segments.

Pacific Fruit Processors, the value-added fruit ingredients operation within the SunOpta Fruit Group, has completed the installation of a state-of-the-art aseptic processing line with a processing capacity of approximately 30 million pounds. Target applications for the new equipment include fruit bases for yogurts, smoothies, fruit toppings and food service products, in both organic and conventional formats. The additional capacity will allow the Fruit Group to pursue a number of potential new applications and customers, with revenue potential in excess of $20 million in this value-added product category.

Michael Jacobs, president of Pacific Fruit Processors commented, "We have been near capacity at times over the past several years on aseptic processing. The new equipment will increase capacity, improve our throughput and also further enhance product quality and flexibility for our customers. We expect to fill the new capacity over the next 12 to 18 months."

In addition, SunOpta Food Solutions, a division of the SunOpta International Foods Group, has added to its existing capabilities and installed two flexible pouch filling lines at a production facility in California. The flexible re-sealable pouch market is well established in Europe and Asia and is rapidly expanding into the North American market. The pouch is applicable to a wide range of product categories including natural and organic fruit and vegetable snacks, apple sauces, tomato products, baby food, yogurts, toppings, and many more. These two filling lines have an estimated annual capacity of 36 million pouches, and SunOpta has entered into agreements for the majority of this capacity.

In addition, the company has finalized arrangements for a facility to be located on the East Coast of the U.S. to accommodate the addition of two more flexible pouch filing lines, scheduled to be operational by August 1, 2012. The facility will be expandable for additional pouch lines based on market demand and will have capacity to house additional fruit snack capabilities as current operations approach capacity.

Joseph Stern, president of SunOpta Food Solutions commented, "We are excited to enter into this fast growing re-sealable pouch market. We are able to leverage our global ingredient sourcing capabilities and combine it with this new and innovative packaging format to bring increased value to our customers. We believe the re-sealable pouch will continue to gain wide spread acceptance across many sectors within the food industry. This expansion of filling capabilities is consistent with our strategy of expanding our natural and organic foods platform with a focus on value-added product offerings."

 From the December 5, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.