As part of efforts to feed a growing world population, Cargill says it will spend $20 million to expand its egg processing facility in Big Lake, Minn.. The expansion includes capabilities to pasteurize, mix and cook a number of additional egg products for foodservice and protein-ingredient customers.

“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.”

Employment at the plant is expected to increase by about 16 percent, adding a dozen new positions to support the growth. The expansion will double the facility’s annual requirement for eggs from family farms in the area to 170 million. Construction begins in May, with the new capabilities expected to become operational in January.

The expansion is part of nearly $900 million of investments Cargill has made in the past two years to grow its traditional protein business in North America. At egg production facilities, this included a 2016 investment of $27 million in Lake Odessa, Mich., and a $12 million expansion in Mason City, Iowa, in 2017.

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

Cargill expects global meat consumption to increase 7 percent by 2023, and the company says it wants to help meet the increased demand. The company has recently invested $4.2 million at its Columbia, S.C., beef processing plant, $111 million for a cooked meats plant conversion in Nebraska, $50 million in a distribution center at its Kansas beef plant, $146 million expansion at a cooked meats facility in Tennessee. It has also acquired meat processing facilities in Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee.