Plant-based beverage manufacturer Innovation Foods will build a processing and packaging facility in Millville primarily focused on manufacturing Swedish oat milk brand Oatly, which it helped bring to the U.S. market a few years ago.
The $45 million, 71,000-square-foot facility will focus on plant-based aseptic and extended shelf-life beverages.
The opening is projected for mid-2022, and between 45 and 50 jobs will be created in production, trucking, and warehousing in addition to the approximately 30 employees Innovation Foods already has at its Bridgeton headquarters and facility, General Manager Nick Catalana said.
Innovation Foods is run by the fourth generation of the Catalana family, whose great grandparents started Cumberland Dairy when great grandfather Charles Catalana turned his garage into a small milk processing plant in 1933. The current generation sold Cumberland Dairy to Kansas-based cooperative Dairy Farmers of America in 2017 but kept its subsidiary Innovation Foods, which finds new and emerging brands launching in the U.S. and helps them commercialize and grow.
It helped propel GoodBelly Probiotics and Oatly into U.S. market success. With Oatly, the Catalanas encouraged co-founder Bjorn Oste to set up shop with them in South Jersey.
“Bjorn, the cofounder, is a very good family friend of ours. We have a lot of faith in the people that run that business as well. Mike, the U.S. president, is a great friend of mine and an incredible businessman. The way they’ve attacked the U.S. market is incredible. We’re just happy to be part of it,” Catalana said.
The Millville facility will be a dedicated facility for Oatly, but Catalana said the company may choose to expand to other products on different parts of the property eventually. For the first few years, the focus will solely be on upping Oatly’s production to meet consumer demand.
“Oatly has really stood out to us as a company that’s not only talked the talk but walked the walk. They’re a company that’s really focused on sustainability in everything they do, from the production of the products to how it’s delivered to the customer,” Catalana said.
Innovation Foods has always been focused on “the cutting edge of beverage,” Catalana explained, noting that GoodBelly Probiotics started working with probiotics more than a decade ago, ahead of the national trend in probiotic foods.
This project is part of an ongoing $110 million investment made by the Innovation-Oatly partnership at the Millville site over the last three years. The new facility will be the only low acid aseptic facility in New Jersey and one of only 25 in the country.