Bunge North America, the North American operating arm of Bunge Ltd., formally opened a new packaging facility and the expansion of its refinery in Decatur, Ala., on April 30.
Construction on the project began in 2011. The 130,000-sq.-ft. packaging facility, adjacent to the refinery, created 48 new jobs. Bunge purchased the Decatur facility in 1982 and added a large edible oil refinery in 1998.
"Our investment in this facility enables Bunge to use the latest technology to work toward eliminating trans fat and reducing saturated fat while providing manufacturers with the functionality they need," said George Allard, vice president and general manager of Bunge Oils.
Process improvements include 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. The new facility primarily serves customers in the southeastern U.S.
"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 uses 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 other packaging and shipped via truck or rail.