Carson City organic foods producer to double, possibly triple plant |

Carson City organic foods producer to double, possibly triple plant

Geoff Dornan
SunOpta Plant Manager John M. Stevens (center) tours city dignitaries and NNDA representatives through a safe food-handling area that will soon start producing for the company.
Brad Coman / Nevada Appeal | Brad Coman / Nevada Appeal

SunOpta, one of the nation’s leading organic food producers, is about to double or even triple its Carson City staff to handle a major expansion of its energy bar production plant.

Plant Manager John Stevens said the company, which has more than 30 production plants nationwide. That will require the plant at least double the 77 member staff currently working at the plant on Conestoga Drive north of the Carson City airport and add a second production line.

But Stevens said an even bigger expansion may come in the near future. The possible expansion could increase their staffing needs to more than 280 altogether.

“I can see us having to expand the building with these kinds of customers,” said Stevens. Their current production plant is already 110,000 square feet.

SunOpta in Carson City already produces up to 145,000 energy and other nutrition bars a day, using seven million pounds of ingredients a year.

He said they are kosher and organic certified and gluten free. In addition, he said SunOpta has been awarded the USDA’s first non-GMO certificate.

“We produce foods that are healthy for you,” he said.

Asked if he thinks it’s going to be hard to find the additional workers, Stevens said he doesn’t think so. That’s in part because the company provides good jobs. He said the company pays $10-$15 an hour and offer a full health benefits package along with a 401K plan.

“This is a big deal to have you expand here,” Mayor Bob Crowell told Stevens during the plant’s tour led by the Northern Nevada Development Authority on Friday.

Rob Hooper of Northern Nevada Development Authority said SunOpta is just one of the companies in the Carson City area that’s expanding operations. He said despite the attention given to attracting new businesses to Nevada, 96 percent of new jobs here are created by existing employers.

Hooper said some 700 potential new jobs are being discussed with businesses already in negotiations with NNDA.