RFF2023_POTY_Badge_small.jpgOn this episode of From the Cold Corner, we’re celebrating Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2023 Processor of the Year: SunOpta. A global pioneer in the sustainable food and beverage industry, SunOpta has achieved consistent growth and deep-rooted success for 50 years. Collaborating with some of the most planet-friendly brands in the world, SunOpta produces 450 SKUS, many of them total organic, non-GMO plant-based and specialty products, including plant-based beverages. Lauren McNamara, vice president of Food & Beverage Business, and Byran Clark, head of Research & Development, join From the Cold Corner to discuss how the Minnesota-based company is focused on sustainably building a plant-based future.

Today, the company is focused on sustainably building a plant-based future for leading natural and private label brands, as well as its own brands, including Sown, Dream and West Life.

Listen to the podcast now!


   Listen to more episodes of From the Cold Corner Podcasts.  

 "Since SunOpta was founded 50 years ago, sustainability has been part of the company’s DNA. As a processor of plant-based products, SunOpta collaborates with major brands to help make their production, operations and supply chain more sustainable.SunOpta_Logo We are thrilled that SunOpta's leading sustainability efforts, steadfast growth and innovation across key areas of manufacturing and production are being recognized by Refrigerated & Frozen Foods as the 2023 Processor of the Year,” Lauren McNamara said. “At SunOpta we are committed to sourcing, processing, and producing organic, Non-GMO plant-based, and specialty products and being awarded with this honor is a testament to the incredible work of our entire team across all levels of the company.”

SunOpta’s research and development (R&D) team has ongoing goals to address consumer health concerns and proactively improve the nutrition profile of its products. Their global headquarters, opened in 2022, includes a pilot plant and an R&D center eight times the size of the company’s previous location.

“The space – known as the Eden Prairie Innovation Center, or EPIC — includes resources for creating new products, experimenting with prototypes, and extensive sampling and benchmarking capabilities. We are using this space to further expand our co-manufacturing, private label, ingredient and branded product offerings across all categories to fuel the future of food,” Clark said.

The company says 99.7% of the ingredients used in U.S. facilities are sourced from Tier 1 supplier facilities certified to a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized food safety certification program. SunOpta facilities maintain certified food safety and quality systems as defined by GFSI and demonstrate the effectiveness of our Safe Quality Food standard via annual external assessments conducted by Mérieux NutriSciences.

 As one of the largest producers of private label, co-manufactured, and owned brands in the market, SunOpta produces nearly seven out of 10 of the brands of plant-based milks on shelves today, including oatmilk as a core specialty. The company is betting big on oatmilk, spending $125 million on a new facility in Texas and aiming to double its plant-based business by 2025, with oatmilk at the helm.

SunOpta’s environmental achievements include carbon emission savings, recyclable packaging, upcycling food waste, water conservation and zero-waste manufacturing. Zero waste (SunOpta has adopted a zero waste definition as 90% diversion of waste from landfill) has been achieved at six of SunOpta’s operating manufacturing plants.