Bunge North America, the North American operating arm of Bunge Limited, marked the grand opening of its new packaging facility and the expansion of its refinery in Decatur, Ala. The new facility improves Bunge's manufacturing processes to better serve customers in the southeastern United States.
"As the 'Oil Experts,' Bunge is committed to creating high quality, innovative products that meet customer demand for more functional, healthier oil products," said George Allard, vice president and general manager, Bunge Oils. "Our investment in this state-of-the-art facility enables Bunge to use the latest technology to continue to work toward eliminating trans fat and reducing saturated fat while providing manufacturers with the functionality they need."
The process improvements include creating the flexibility to refine multiple oils such as soy and palm in addition to increasing the capacity of the refinery. Adding the packaging plant to the site improves efficiency and enhances customer focus along the entire value chain.
"The efficiency gained by packaging products in Decatur rather than shipping oils to other Bunge locations is key to improving our customer service," said Beau Meneley, director of operations in Bunge Oils southeast region. "With this facility, we were also able to incorporate the latest food safety and safe quality food (SQF) requirements into the design."
The Decatur, Ala., facility is one of Bunge's two integrated crush, refining and packaging facilities. The plant takes soybeans and crushes them to extract the oil and use the remaining protein meal for animal feed. The extracted soy oil is refined and can be blended into value-added ingredients, such as salad oils, shortenings and specialty blends. The oil products can be shipped in bulk or packaged in cube boxes, 35 lb. jugs, and more, for efficient delivery to customers via truck or rail.
Construction on the project, which included the 130,000 sq. ft. packaging facility adjacent to the refinery, began in 2011. The design and build contractor on the project was RFW Construction Group, which has decades of experience building food manufacturing facilities.
The packaging facility created 48 new jobs and demonstrates Bunge's commitment to the Decatur community. Bunge purchased the facility in 1982 and built a large edible oil refinery, which became operational in 1998.