The Acadian Wild Blueberry Company has built a new wild blueberry processing facility over the last 18 months and today marks its official opening.
It fulfills a commitment by Oxford Frozen Foods to build a new facility in the area. It is ready to process fresh to frozen wild blueberries for the 2016 harvest in August.
The processing plant covers a footprint of 175,000 sq ft, and is the most modern and sophisticated wild blueberry factory in the world. It will provide the processing capacity for the local growers who have seen multiple increases in production over the last 10 years as they have adopted new growing practices and expanded their land base. The two freezing tunnels can process up to 1.5 million pounds of fresh blueberries daily during the harvest season, while the large cold storage holds 45 million pounds of product.
The design of the building incorporates a high energy efficiency mandate, reflected in the deep insulation, the LED lighting and the efficiency control systems. Most uniquely, the freezing capacity is driven by a CO2 cascade system rather than ammonia, creating lower freezing temperatures and increasing the quality of the finished product. It is the largest CO2 cascade powered freezing factory in the world and the first time this innovative technology has been utilized in the Maritimes, with higher heat transfer efficiency and lower operating costs, as well as being more environmentally friendly.
On hand today to help celebrate the new factory were Lieutenant Governor Her Honour Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau; the Premier the Honourable Brian Gallant; Mr John Bragg, Chairman and Co-CEO of Oxford Frozen Foods and the Acadian Wild Blueberry Company, and local MLA Denis Landry, Minister of Public Safety and Justice.
Numerous jobs have been created in the building of the new factory, with the vast majority of the work being carried out by local crews. In addition to this, the company is employing 70 full-time workers and over 200 seasonal workers at this time. As the new land development by the company starts to come into production over the next several years, and as production activities in the factory are increased even more jobs will be created.
John Bragg noted that the plant was built a full year ahead of schedule to ensure that there was processing capacity for the ever-increasing crops of the local grower community.
“Our Company has invested more than $70 million in the local community over the last 3 years, primarily to service our growers. We are proud of our 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”, he said.
Opportunities New Brunswick is lending Acadian Wild Blueberry Company up to $37.5 million in fully repayable and interest-bearing loans towards the construction of the facility. Economic Development and Opportunities NB Minister Francine Landry said “the jobs created at the new plant will greatly help the families and the economy in the region.”