Crews have begun mobilizing for construction of a new $175 million state-of-the-art production facility being built for Bartek Ingredients Inc. in Stoney Creek.
Once complete, it will double the company’s capacity and be the world’s largest and most technologically advanced malic and food-grade fumaric acid production plant.
The plant is also expected to be the most environmentally friendly facility in the industry and is projected to reduce per unit greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 per cent.
“The foundation work has begun with site prep,” says Steven Chambers, chief financial officer at Bartek. “We have excavators, bulldozers, pile drivers and other specialized equipment working at the site.”
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in mid-January. WSP Global, a renowned engineering consulting firm, was selected to lead construction and design work on the project.
Construction work is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, with the facility slated to be up and operational at the beginning of 2024.
The facility will enable Bartek to accelerate new product development and other innovation efforts.
The venture is the largest project by size and dollar value being built in Stoney Creek in recent memory, according to Chambers, and will create about 250 jobs during the peak period of construction.
The plant will also create a good number of sustainable and secure jobs for people who are interested in manufacturing business lines, he says.
“The facility is using state-of-the-art technologies which will also create opportunity for potential future employees to get trained and familiarized with the most up-to-date knowledge bases and methods.”
Bartek presently employs about 120 people across two production facilities in southern Ontario. Through the project, the company will inject $100 million in the local Stoney Creek economy.
The facility will also be expandable to produce new products such as buffer and fortification salts and additional volumes of malic and fumaric acid, which are used to intensify flavour in food products.
“On top of accelerating innovation, the facility allows us to double our production capacity to better serve the growing global acidulants market,” explains Chambers.
The new building itself will be a pre-engineered steel structure with insulated metal panels on a concrete foundation.
“The facility is a multi-storey process plant with integrated offices, labs, maintenance shop and warehouse covering over 6,000 square metres,” Chambers says. “All process equipment are food-grade stainless steel while the building itself is carbon steel with corrosion protection.”
A number of environmentally sustainable elements are being incorporated into the plant to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are reducing our environmental footprint by reusing waste energy from our processes and conserving the energy we already possess,” explains Chambers. “Energy capture through heat exchangers, increased insulation on all process and building envelopes, and high-efficiency machines all play an integral part in our transformation.
“The plant also has monitoring on all energy and utilities to drive an efficiency culture in our operations.”
There have been challenges to the project posed by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and issues that have arisen in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cost of raw materials and delivery time increases due to the sanctions imposed on Russia as well as bottlenecks at overseas shipping ports and borders due to COVID restrictions have been issues, Chambers says. Securing an adequate number of professional technical and trades workers to meet the project schedule and budget requirements have also been ongoing concerns.
“Project management-engineering teams proactively identified these risks at the beginning of the project and allocated proper time, resources and funds to mitigate any potential scenario during the life cycle of the project,” he says.
Bartek president and CEO John Burrows says the company is thrilled to be proceeding with the project, which he expects will set a new benchmark for safety, efficiency and environmental performance.
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks worked closely with Bartek through the permitting and approvals process to help secure the investment.
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Lisa Thompson says the new facility will be a shining example of Ontario’s robust agri-food manufacturing and processing sector.
“This major investment will create good-paying jobs in the local community and further strengthen Ontario’s value-added food supply chain.”