SunOpta welcomes its 50th anniversary by reflecting on major milestones achieved as it fuels the future of food with sustainable, plant-based foods and beverages
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN (November 14, 2023) — SunOpta (Nasdaq: STKL) (TSX: SOY), a U.S.-based, global pioneer fueling the future of sustainable, plant-based foods and beverages, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by reflecting on major milestones and achievements reached over the last five decades of business. Since its inception 50 years ago, sustainability has remained at the forefront of SunOpta’s mission and business operations.
The Company’s Evolution
SunOpta, initially founded under the name StakeTech in 1973, has strategically evolved over the years. The company’s first business endeavor was focused on converting biomass to animal feed using steam technology. It later entered into the industrial mineral business, then into the natural and organic foods business, and eventually made a bold move to become a pioneer in the plant-based food and beverage space.
The company adopted its current name “SunOpta” in 2003 due to the company’s effort to optimize what the sun grows and has since built on its legacy by helping transform the food and beverages people consume. From manufacturing organic and specialty products for leading natural and private label brands, to proudly producing its own brands, SOWN, Dream and West Life, SunOpta has maintained its position as a high-growth company.
As a major manufacturer and producer in the plant-based sector, SunOpta entered the soymilk business more than 20 years ago and was also one of the first plant-based food and beverage companies to enter the oatmilk category in the U.S., which has become the second most popular plant-based beverage on the market. SunOpta currently manufactures nearly 450 product SKUs in the categories of plant-based milk, broth, and tea in addition to better-for-you fruit snacks.
“Reflecting on 50 years of SunOpta, the company has made a lasting impact on the plant-based food and beverage industry, and with every milestone reached we are closer to meeting our company goals of doubling our plant-based business by 2025 off our 2020 base and pushing towards $1 billion and beyond,” said Joe Ennen, CEO of SunOpta. “I am proud of the ESG commitments we have made over the years. We maintain a passionate focus on sustainability, innovation and community, all of which will lead us into the next 50 years of business and beyond.”
To reach the goal of doubling its plant-based business, SunOpta has invested over $200 million in its plant-based production capacity in the last three years to support the accelerated growth and developing demand for plant-based milk alternatives and snacks.
SunOpta’s journey to becoming a top manufacturer of food and beverage products has been marked by numerous other significant achievements and milestones, including:
- 1999: StakeTech acquired SunRich organic corn and pioneering organic soymilk business.
- 2002: Acquired Simply Organic as part of the company’s focus on organic food.
- 2000-2015: Completed 37 acquisitions of food and beverage businesses.
- 2003: Changed name to SunOpta, optimizing what the sun grows.
- 2003: Entered the fruit snacks business.
- 2018: Entered the oatmilk business.
- 2020: Invested in an oatbase processing facility in Alexandria, Minnesota, expanding oatbase production capabilities.
- 2020: Launched SOWN brand of Organic Oat Creamers.
- 2021: Acquired and subsequently rebranded plant-based beverage brands DREAM ricemilk and West Life (formerly Westsoy) soymilk.
- 2021: Opened new headquarters facility, Eden Prairie Innovation Center (“EPIC”), featuring a pilot plant and R&D center to expand co-manufacturing, private label, ingredient and branded product offerings. The facility now powers two-thirds of its energy needs with 742 solar panels on its roof.
- 2021: Began tracking company-wide environmental sustainability data and released comprehensive ESG reports in 2021 and 2022.
- 2021: Began construction of a new production facility in Midlothian, Texas to add capacity and new capabilities to accelerate growth and reduce production costs to serve and meet the growing needs of customers.
- 2022: Began manufacturing Premier Protein single serve (330mL) protein shakes for BellRing Brands, expanding SunOpta’s capabilities into the nutritional beverage space.
- 2023: Expanded its Omak, Washington facility, marked by a new fruit snack production line, doubling its output to produce more of its better-for-you fruit snack products.
- 2023: Divested its frozen fruit business to optimize the portfolio to focus the business on core value-added, high-growth, high-margin categories.
- 2023: Achieved zero waste* at six of its seven operating manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Canada.
*SunOpta has adopted a zero waste definition as 90% diversion of waste from landfill.
Sustainability has always been part of the company culture and at the root of everything SunOpta does as a high-growth food and beverage company. Looking ahead, SunOpta remains committed to sustainably fueling the future of food for the next 50 years and beyond.
About SunOpta, Inc.
SunOpta (Nasdaq: STKL) (TSX: SOY) is a U.S.-based, global pioneer fueling the future of sustainable, plant-based food and beverages. Founded 50 years ago, SunOpta manufactures natural, organic and specialty products sold through retail and foodservice channels. SunOpta operates as a manufacturer for leading natural and private label brands, and also proudly produces its own brands, including SOWN®, Dream®, and West Life™. For more information, visit www.sunopta.com and LinkedIn.