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Alpro invests £17m to increase UK production
Alpro has unveiled its latest investment for its Kettering-based factory, part of a wider investment totalling around £41m that is set to increase production capacity for its plant-based products destined for UK shoppers, enhance its sustainability credentials and create new jobs in the local area.
The latest investment comprises a new £17m high-speed production line, along with a state-of-the-art trigeneration unit and water treatment plant that will reduce energy consumption, CO2 emissions and water usage across the site.
The new production line is set to increase production capacity to 300 million litres of soya, oat, rice and coconut drinks a year (representing 300 million packs of Alpro 1L drinks). With further planned investment, that number is set to increase to up to 400 million litres as early as 2022.
Alpro general manager, 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.”
Currently, 100% of fresh and 75% of UHT Alpro 1L drinks created on site in Kettering are sold to UK shoppers, with the increased production meaning even more products will be created within the UK for UK shoppers. By creating more products in the UK the investment reduces the need for imports, dividing by 4 the number of Alpro trucks coming to the UK, and reducing Alpro’s CO2 emissions from transport significantly.
As part of the investment, the new state-of-the-art combined cooling, heat and power unit (CCHP, or ‘trigeneration’) will simultaneously generate electricity and 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% 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.
Garfitt added: “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% recyclable packaging and 100% plant-based or recycled materials by 2025, so it’s vital that our sustainable initiatives are also being reflected in our sustainable manufacturing processes.”
Alpro’s Kettering site has also reduced energy consumption per product by more than -40% in the last 13 years and also operates a zero waste to landfill.
Alpro currently employs more than 200 people at its UK factory, with many of its skilled workers hailing from the surrounding areas of Corby, Kettering and Burton Latimer. The new investment plans have created additional job opportunities within the community, with a further 25 workers hired to meet the increase in capacity, representing a +12.5% demand in workforce.
Garfitt concluded: “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 announcement reflects years of exponential growth for the plant-based and dairy-free sector, now worth £636m, with category leader Alpro accounting for £259.6m in value sales. The company says it is also responsible for encouraging 2.2 million new shoppers to try plant-based within the last year.