BIG LAKE, Minn. – Demand for egg products has grown beyond the breakfast daypart, and Cargill is using this trend as an opportunity to expand its egg processing operations. The most recent initiative is a $20 million investment in the company’s egg processing facility in Big Lake, Minnesota.

Enhancements to the Big Lake plant include capabilities to pasteurize, mix and cook additional egg products for foodservice and protein ingredient customers, Cargill explained. The expansion will double the facility’s annual requirement for eggs from family farms in the area to 170 million.

Construction begins in May, and the company expects the new capabilities to be operational in January 2019.

“We continue to invest in the traditional protein space to provide our foodservice and food ingredient customers innovative, high-quality cooked egg products to meet growing consumer demand,” said Jared Johnson, Big Lake plant general manager. “This investment underscores our ongoing commitment to the Big Lake community and our employees, egg suppliers and restaurant and foodservice customers throughout the upper Midwest.”

The Big Lake expansion complements other investments Cargill has made to grow its North American protein business. At egg production facilities, the company invested $27 million in Lake Odessa, Michigan, in 2016, and $12 million in Mason City, Iowa, in 2017. Cargill also operates an egg processing facility in Monticello, Minnesota. These investments are part of an overall spend of nearly $900 million within the two years in the company’s traditional protein business, Cargill noted.

“Economies are improving,” Johnson said. “More people are moving into the middle class and the world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. These factors are driving significantly increased demand for animal protein around the world.

“Cargill’s protein team is prepared to play a critical role in meeting this demand and nourish the world with sustainable, high quality protein.”

The company expects the expansion to increase the workforce at the facility by approximately 16 percent, adding a dozen new positions to support the growth. Cargill opened the Big Lake facility in 2001.