AMC Group has unveiled its first purpose-built factory for freshly-squeezed juice and a variety of plant-based and free-from products in Skelmersdale, Lancashire.
The new 55,000ft2 site has created over 100 jobs and aims to supply the growing demand for healthier food options.
Work on the £11m facility started in February 2018 and production of dairy-free products, baby food and soups started in August. The new juice facility, which has the capability to provide the whole of the UK with freshly-squeezed juice, came online in April 2019.
In order to meet this demand, the bespoke plant can squeeze 960 oranges per minute, delivering 50 per cent of the fruit weight as juice via six juice extractors. The unique juicing process ensures there is consistency in the volume of pulp within the final product, which has historically been an issue with freshly-squeezed juice.
Now fully operational, AMC Group has secured Sainsbury’s as its first customer for freshly-squeezed juice and has just started production of a number of premium lemonades for Waitrose’s Truly Scrumptious summer range.
In addition to providing juice to large retailers and wholesalers, the site is producing dairy-free and allergen-free yoghurt for Rebel Kitchen, and healthy, plant-based soups for brands including Bol.
Mike Bullock, fresh foods director at AMC Group, commented: “There’s an exciting future in store for the site. Plant-based products are in huge demand and there is a gap in the market for a dairy-free factory producing fresh, quality products at scale.
“Freshly-squeezed juice is in double digit growth in the UK compared to a relatively flat juice market and we can deliver in terms of consistency way better than ever before.”
Sustainability was an important part of the build as Terry Haigh, managing director of the new factory, added: “Everything has been purpose-built so, not only do we have the latest technology for food manufacturing, we also have solar panels to provide a fifth of the site’s energy and we have a ‘zero to landfill’ commitment to environmentally responsible practices.
“All our waste water is recycled after particles are sieved out and the fruit peels will be used for animal feed or fuel pellets.”
Further modern technology on the site includes the ability to control equipment via mobile phones, for example temperature and CCTV, and the state-of-the-art machinery has unique capabilities to set it apart from other facilities.
The site has been designed with efficient processes in mind, including the innovative design of an access for engineering and maintenance, in that all services have been placed in a maintenance void allowing essential engineering works to be carried out outside of the production environment.
AMC Group is based in Spain and has sites across 50 countries including the UK. The company provides products to major supermarkets, wholesalers and food service providers across fresh produce, flowers and natural beverages.