Nestled in an industrial park neighborhood of manufacturers and distribution companies, Ocean Spray’s new Breinigsville facility in Upper Macungie Township is poised to become the Massachusetts company’s East Coast supplier.
On April 29, the juice and dried fruit producer will host a grand opening for the new bottling facility at the corner of Boulder Drive and Schantz Road near Route 100. By late summer, production will be in full gear.
Once Ocean Spray’s manufacturing facility is at full capacity, it will provide 40 percent of the company’s North American volume, said Erich A. Fritz, vice president of engineering and new technologies for Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., headquartered in Lakeville-Middleboro, Mass.
The new facility will ship about 30 million cases of product each year, he added.
Valued at more than $100 million to build, the site represents a sizable investment in the food production sector, according to Fritz.
The new bottling plant will have two basic products, according to Fritz. Not only will it produce its namesake juice in 10-ounce to gallon size bottles, it also will be a packaging plant for Juicy Juice for Nestle Waters. Ocean Spray has a partnership with Nestle Waters, which has two nearby facilities in the same industrial park.
Ocean Spray will manufacture and package Juicy Juice and ship it to Nestle, Fritz said, noting that close to 20 percent of Ocean Spray’s expected daily truck traffic will be trucks going to one of the Nestle distribution facilities.
With the potential to bring 180 jobs to the new site, Ocean Spray is hiring and recruiting for machine operators, Fritz said. Unlike many manufacturers, Ocean Spray has not seen a challenge in finding skilled workers, Fritz said, noting that the Greater Lehigh Valley is rife with talented, well-educated employees, including line operators and technicians.
The growing presence of “human machine interface technology,” Fritz said, reflects the clean, automated lean processes found today in more manufacturing plants. Ocean Spray will be seeking employees who can monitor and program those computer systems and use them in the new building, he said.
“Those are some of the primary positions; we are screening employees to make sure they have the appropriate skills,” Fritz said.
The company is starting to hire and train employees and is working with Upper Macungie Township to ensure the facility is inspected and approved for use.
While physical construction on its 297,000-square-foot building is complete, Ocean Spray is finalizing the placement of equipment.
Fritz said the construction cost tops $100 million.
“It represents not only a sizable investment for Ocean Spray growers, but it’s a sizable commitment to the community,” Fritz said.
When Ocean Spray submitted its building footprint to the township, it included a future expansion plan, he added.
With about 150 truck trips (in and out of the facility) expected each day, trucks leaving the site will only be allowed to make a left on Boulder Drive and then a left on Industrial Drive, which connects at a traffic light with Route 100. Those heading to the Nestle distribution facility make a left on Boulder, then a right on Industrial Drive, Fritz said.
Ocean Spray completed multiple traffic studies, and Fritz said the site has a lot of the proper infrastructure necessary to handle a manufacturing operation.
“A lot of consideration went into this particular site,” Fritz said. “It’s a great community of people that have the right values and want to work.”
He said that once the company’s Bordentown, N.J., facility closes in late August, the new Ocean Spray bottling plant will support the business on the East Coast.
As a grower-owned operation, Ocean Spray processes its products into concentrate where it grows the berries, and the concentrate goes to its bottling facilities, said Kellyanne Dignan, cooperative communications manager for Ocean Spray.
The company has more than 700 cranberry growers, more than 35 grapefruit growers and more than 2,000 employees globally.