Cargill Invests $50M in Elk River Facility Upgrades
Wayzata-based food giant Cargill Inc. broke ground this week on a $50 million project to expand and renovate its research and development facility in Elk River.
First opened in 1958 and located 30 minutes from the company’s headquarters, the Elk River Animal Nutrition Innovation Center has seen a few renovations over the years, but none as robust as this one, a Cargill spokesperson said in an email. Currently employing around 110 people, the expansion will create more opportunities for additional hires in the coming years due to more capacity and lab testing needs, the company said.
The updates include a new laboratory and upgrades to the location’s animal facility, dairy innovation unit, feed mill, and visitor’s space.
“This is the largest investment Cargill’s animal nutrition business has made in innovation,” Adriano Marcon, Group Leader of Cargill’s animal nutrition business, said in a statement. “We are taking a significant step towards what is going to create state-of-the-art technologies for our world. We want to be the best animal nutrition partner globally, and our customers expect us to bring innovations that make them more competitive, efficient, and sustainable. When they choose us as a trusted partner, they rely on us as a conduit to new technology. Therefore, we must be in the forefront and move faster to continue delivering on our promise to customers.”
The move to expand in Elk River is part of an effort by Cargill to support its global research and development operations.
In recent years, animal producers have found themselves operating in an increasingly complex world due to volatile commodity markets, changing regulations, and evolving consumer needs, Cargill said in a news release. Company execs believe that makes research more important than ever.
Elk River is one of five global innovation centers in the Cargill Animal Nutrition and Health enterprise and serves as a hub of the company’s global network of 15 animal nutrition research and technology application centers. A new sow innovation center in Shanxi Province, China, is also currently under construction.
Though these two locations are on opposite ends of the world, the Elk river and Shanxi Province facilities will collaborate on projects to build greater understanding of the impacts of nutrition on the health and performance of animals, a company spokesperson said via email.
At the facilities, teams develop new methods of nutrient measurement to understand how ingredients feed animals and support their performance at all life stages. The location is also instrumental in developing new ways to measure nutrients and their availability so Cargill can understand how ingredients are best used to feed animals.
Elk River also serves as the analytical hub for the North American business, hosting more than 2,000 visitors a year. The renovation’s new viewing corridors will allow visitors to view the animal research and development facilities.
“This investment showcases the importance of bringing sustainable growth to our business and is at the heart of the vision of being a nutrition company,” said Mariano Berdegu, regional managing director for Cargill’s North America animal nutrition business. “This capability has never been more critical than now with what we are facing today regarding raw material prices, the cost of food, our ability to optimize nutrition, and our ability to understand raw materials and convert them into protein. We feel proud about the options we are giving our customers so they can continue their livelihoods and thrive.”