Berner Food and Beverage triples production space to offer ‘endless’ RTD beverage capabilities

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Berner hopes to ramp up its production of RTD coffee, tea, and protein beverages by the end of 2017.
Berner hopes to ramp up its production of RTD coffee, tea, and protein beverages by the end of 2017.

Related tags Coffee

Berner Food and Beverage has expanded its ready-to-drink beverage manufacturing capabilities with an investment of over $100m, adding 200,000 additional square feet to its production warehouse in Dakota, Illinois. 

Berner is a contract manufacturer of shelf-stable beverages (primarily coffee-based) and the company got its start producing shelf-stable cheese products, such as dips, sauce, and aerosol cheese, 75 years ago. After noticing a rapidly growing market for RTD coffee, tea, and protein drinks, Berner launched its private label RTD beverage manufacturing business.

By 2020, sales of packaged and RTD coffee are estimated to reach $18bn, according to Packaged Facts.

With the increased footprint, which is also SQF Level III certified, Berner aims to deliver a wider variety of RTD beverages.

“We feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of trying to match the national brand equivalents out there,”​ Berner VP of private label sales, Todd Mullane, told BeverageDaily.

The expanded structure has been built and will be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2017 once the machinery is installed and commercialized for production, according to Mullane.

Retort capabilities

The expansion will allow for an increased footprint in retort can and glass beverage capabilities to deliver an extended shelf life of 12 months for its line of RTD coffee-based beverages.

Berner now has the space to add as many as 16 retorts to its facility, which gives the company an advantage from a processing standpoint in the beverage manufacturing market, according to Mullane.

Retort is not a process many bottling and beverage manufacturers perform because of its tedious and technical nature that must be approved by the FDA after meeting very specific food safety requirements, according to Mullane.

“That’s why we have this tremendous opportunity out there in the marketplace to continue to grow and produce more and more of these types of beverages for people,” ​Mullane added.

Customized options

Berner says it can provide its customers with insights into the emerging trends affecting the beverage market such as flavors, packaging, and ingredients, through a partnership with a data analytics firm.

Additionally, the company has an R&D team on staff that can assist its partners develop novel or seasonal flavors for their beverage lines.

“The creativity and the flexibility here is endless,”​ Mullane said. 

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