• Alpro unveils c.£41 million UK investment plan at Kettering facility to up production to 300 million litres of plant-based drinks per year, to keep up with soaring demand for plant-based
  • Latest leg of investment comprises a new c.£17 million high-speed line and state-of-the-art equipment that each reduce energy, water and co2 usage
  • The development creates 25 additional jobs locally, with opportunities for future growth

Plant-based pioneer, Alpro, a Danone owned business, is unveiling its latest investment for its Kettering-based UK factory, as part of a total c.£41 million plan set to ramp up production capacity for its plant-based products destined for UK shoppers, enhance its sustainability credentials and create new jobs in the local area.

The latest investment comprises a new c.£17 million high-speed production facility along with a state-of-art trigeneration unit and water treatment plant that will reduce energy consumption, CO2 emissions and water usage across the site.

The announcement reflects years of exponential growth for the plant-based and dairy-free sector, now worth £636 million[i], with category leader Alpro accounting for £259.6m in value sales[ii] and responsible for encouraging 2.2 million new shoppers[iii] to try plant-based within the last year.

Increased production

The new high-speed production facility is set to increase production capacity to 300 million litres of soya, oat, rice and coconut drinks a year (representing 300 million packs of Alpro 1L drinks). With further planned investment, that number is set to increase to up to 400 million litres as early as 2022. 

General Manager for Alpro, Sue Garfitt, says: “As the plant-based category leader, we’ve been blazing a trail in sustainable production for more than 40 years, and there’s no question that this significant investment in our UK site is the latest example of that”.

“The changes we are installing will not only accelerate the volume of products we are producing in the UK, for UK shoppers – but will also allow us to keep ahead of the curve and continue being the brand to fuel the category growth and whet the nation’s appetite for delicious and healthy plant-based products, and of course, doing this whilst operating in a planet-friendly way.”

Currently, 100% of fresh and 75% of UHT Alpro 1L drinks created on site in Kettering are sold to UK shoppers with the increased production meaning even more products are created within the UK for UK shoppers.

Sustainable operations

As part of the investment, Alpro has installed a new, state-of-the-art combined cooling, heat and power unit (CCHP, or ‘trigeneration’) to simultaneously generate electricity, useful heating and cooling from the combustion of gas – resulting in a more efficient use of primary energy. This move allows the factory – which runs on 100% renewable electricity – to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The site also boasts a new water treatment plant, that cuts water usage and results in 218 m3 of water being reused on site every day – enough to fill more than an Olympic sized swimming pool each week[1].

With more products created in the UK for UK shoppers, the investment slashes the need for imports, dividing by 4 the number of Alpro trucks coming to the UK, hence reducing Alpro’s CO2 emissions from transport significantly.

Garfitt, says: “As a committed B Corp business, our environmental impact matters in everything that we do, so we are proud to be making this positive progress in further reducing our planetary footprint. We’ve made leaps and bounds across our product portfolio, including reducing our packaging usage and striving for 100% recyclable packaging and 100% plant-based or recycled materials by 2025, so it’s vital that our sustainable initiatives are also being reflected in our sustainable manufacturing processes.”

Alpro’s Kettering site has also reduced energy consumption per product by more than -40% in the last 13 years and also operates a zero waste to landfill.

Local opportunities

Alpro currently employs more than 200 people at its UK factory, with many of its skilled workers hailing from the surrounding areas of Corby, Kettering and Burton Latimer.

The new investment plans have created additional job opportunities within the community, with a further 25 workers hired to meet the increase in capacity, representing a +12.5% demand in workforce.

“We’ve been operating in Kettering for more than 20 years, and we’re continuing to invest in the local community as part of our commitment to produce more for the UK, close to home. With this latest expansion, we’re proud to be increasing our workforce and with our ongoing investment we hope to create further local employment opportunities,” says Garfitt.

The Nation’s Health

Garfitt, says: “The best part of our story is that there’s never been a better time to choose plant-based, not only for the health of the planet but also the nation. There is a growing consensus among policy makers, scientists and international organisations that eating more plant-based is a fundamental part of the solution for the challenges of today and tomorrow[iv].”

The ‘National Food Strategy’ indicates that poor diet contributes to 64,000 deaths a year in England alone and costs the economy £74bn. However, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition[2] found that British government could reduce its healthcare and societal costs by £5.21 billion if just 10% of the UK population would embrace plant-based foods in their diet.

“We are at a pivotal moment and this proves there’s more reason than ever before to make the switch to plant-based foods for health,” says Garfitt. “That’s because plant-based foods tend to be full of fibre, heart healthy – generally low in saturated fat – and packed with a wide range of vitamins and minerals.”

[1] Based on an Olympic-sized swimming pool representing 1,200m3 water.

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900717302861?via%3Dihub

[i] IRI data 52 weeks to 17 July, 2021

[ii] Value sales. IRI data 52 weeks to 17 July, 2021

[iii] Kantar, Total GB, Plant Based Dairy Alternatives, 52 w/e 04.10.2020 vs 2016

[iv] FAO & WHO guidelines on sustainable diets: “Plates, pyramids, planet”, European Farm2 Fork strategy: Farm to Fork Strategy, EAT-Lancet: The EAT-Lancet report

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