The plant has been serving the food ingredient industry for more than 30 years, operating as Del Dee Foods. With this acquisition, JUST will become the largest private employer in Appleton.
For more than a year, JUST, has partnered with Del Dee for the production of its products. The western Minnesota factory is now responsible for a majority of JUST’s protein processing and when Del Dee’s owners began contemplating selling the business, JUST expressed an interest.
“To make our mission happen, we need to scale. Separating the protein from the bean requires talent, proprietary processing and a supportive community. We found all that and more in Appleton,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of JUST.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Through hiring and training programs, the facility’s workforce has doubled to nearly 40 employees occupying multiple shifts throughout the week. The facility now has the ability to support JUST’s production needs up to six days a week, 24 hours a day, and the company intends to attract more talent to operate seven days a week. Current employees will become JUST team members with full benefits and equity in the company, which was valued at more than $1 billion in 2017.
JUST, according to a press release, has already invested millions of dollars in processing equipment for the site and will continue to expand its footprint in Appleton. The multi-story facility houses industrial food processing equipment, a quality assurance laboratory, warehousing and administrative offices, with ample room for further expansion. Acquiring Del Dee will help create a manufacturing infrastructure for JUST Egg that is dependable, efficient and expandable as the company plans for future growth.
In its first full year of distribution, leading U.S. retailers like Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods are carrying the product, along with a growing number of foodservice destinations like restaurants, college campuses, amusement parks and corporate cafeterias. JUST is also readying for broad retail and foodservice distribution in international markets after launching JUST Egg in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
JUST Egg’s key ingredient is protein from the mung bean. The product is cholesterol-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, and Kosher certified.
“JUST has an important mission and exciting plans and I am certain that this facility on the prairie of Minnesota will help them reach those goals,” said Del Dee co-owner Lori Lind, whose father Del Droogsma launched the business in 1972.
“It was my hope that when the time was right, we would be able to sell our facility as a whole, with the factory running, and ultimately keeping our staff employed. JUST has made this hope a reality,” said Del Dee CEO and co-owner Mike Lind.