USA – World’s dairy corporation, Danone has inaugurated an extension site to its plant-based foods production facility in Dubois, Pennsylvania, increasing capacity in plant-based alternatives in the United States.

The expansion would help address the growing demand for dairy alternatives including yogurts among consumers while opening up new opportunities in the segment.

The Dubois facility sits on 24 acres, and the plant together with the newly added site covers a total of 180,000 square feet.

It will be responsible for producing Vega yogurt alternatives and nutritional powders, in addition to Silk yogurt alternatives and So Delicious Dairy Free yogurt alternatives and dairy-free cheese shreds

According to Danone, there is a surge in the number of people turning away from meat, resolving to a vegetarian diet and this account for one-third of the total population in the U.S.

Flexitarian eating habits are quickly changing, one of the key factors contributing to growth in the plant-based food category which is growing at 20% compared with all food, which is growing at only 2%.

Based on the opportunities presented by this segment, Danone has set an ambitious goal to grow its plant-based business three times by 2025.

“As flexitarian eating patterns continue to evolve and grow in popularity, plant-based food options present an opportunity to bring new choices throughout the grocery store,” said Mariano Lozano, CEO, Danone North America.

“Dairy-free is different than non-dairy, dairy-free options must be produced in a facility that is solely dedicated to plant-based food production.

As consumers continue to seek out more dairy-free options, having a facility that meets this standard gives us an opportunity to deliver on their growing demand and high expectations.”

Community and environment focus

The new facility will employ 60 additional people, a step in enhancing the company’s commitment to improve the lives of people in the community they operate in.

Danone said focusing on plant-based alternatives also addresses the impact of the products on the environment.

Dubois facility will incorporate several projects targeting to minimize waste, reduce electricity consumption by converting to LED lighting and create efficiencies for water use across its operations.

These initiatives work toward Danone’s priority environmental targets, the facility having reduced energy usage by 9%, reduced cubic meter per ton of water consumption by 6% in the year 2018.

In the same year, most of waste generated at the facility was diverted to recycling and reuse with only 7.5% of it going to landfill.