World’s Largest Blueberry Processing Plant Comes on Line
Officials of the Acadian Wild Blueberry Co. and provincial representatives celebrated the grand opening of the Oxford Frozen Foods division’s state-of-the-art processing plant in Saint-Isidore, New Brunswick, Canada, on July 19. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place a full year ahead of schedule, as growing demand necessitated the need to quickly boost processing capacity in time for the August 2016 harvest.
The 175,000-square-foot facility is regarded as the largest most efficient blueberry processing operation in the world. Its two freezing tunnels can process up to 1.5 million pounds of berries per day during the high season, and its cold storage warehouse capacity can handle 45 million pounds of product.
The plant utilizes LED lighting and CO2 instead of ammonia for freezing. In addition to being environmentally friendly, CO2 cascade-powered systems boast higher heat transfer efficiency and lower operating costs.
“Our company has invested more than $70 million in the local community over the last three years, primarily to service our growers,” said John Bragg, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Oxford Frozen Foods. “We are proud of the strong relationships with our growers and our long association with the community, and we are proud of this factory. This is a strong demonstration of our long-term commitment to the growers, to the region and to the industry.”
The provincial government contributed a $37.5 million interest-bearing repayable loan towards the construction of the processing plant.
“New Brunswick is well positioned for growth in the blueberry industry as we have the land, the climate and the people,” said Economic Development Minister Francine Landry, who is also minister responsible for Opportunities NB. “By helping businesses like the Acadian Wild Blueberry Co., we can move forward with our goal of becoming a global leader in wild blueberry production and exports.”
The company is employing 70 full-time workers and more than 200 seasonal personnel, with additional jobs expected to be created as more land comes into production over the next several years.