Cargill makes $20m upgrade to Minnesota egg facility

Ag giant’s latest move is in response to 'dynamic and competitive' protein market, says firm.

Cargill is making a $20 million upgrade to one of its Minnesota egg-processing facilities as part of attempts to keep pace with demand for a greater variety of cooked egg products.

Opened in 2001, the facility is located in the city of Big Lake and currently processes 85 million eggs annually. Construction at the plant is scheduled begin next month and expected to double total processing capacity. Cargill wrote that the additional eggs are to be sourced from existing local suppliers and construction should be completed by January.

“The Big Lake expansion includes capabilities to pasteurize, mix and cook a number of additional egg products for foodservice and protein ingredient customers,” Cargill wrote.

Mike Martin, director of communications at Cargill, cited market competition in declining to identify what specific cooked egg products the expanded Big Lake facility will produce.

“Right now, there’s a lot of protein in the marketplace, it’s a dynamic and competitive market. We’re seeing a lot of changes in terms of retail, market disrupters and delivery systems,” Martin said, adding that breakfast foods specifically are seeing an increase in demand. “Consumers want more protein, they want a greater variety of protein options and that’s across proteins, not exclusive for eggs.”

Martin said the new products produced at Big Lake are not currently produced at the company’s other egg-processing facilities in Monticello, Minnesota; Mason City, Iowa and Lake Odessa, Michigan. The Lake Odessa facility received a $27 million upgrade in 2016 and the Mason City plant carried out a $12 million expansion last year.

In October 2016, Cargill sold an egg-processing facility in Toronto for an undisclosed price.

“Big Lake, currently, really it’s a hard-boiled egg facility,” said Martin. “There’s a lot more flexibility and variety of types of egg products we’ll be able to produced based on the type of equipment we’re installing, and production lines that we’re installing there.”