SERGEANT BLUFF | Sometime this month, Gelita expects work to begin on a $22 million expansion project that company officials say will help the company keep up with a growing demand for its gelatine products.
The 30,000-square-foot addition will adjoin current facilities at its Port Neal facilities near Sergeant Bluff, where Gelita has its North American headquarters and operates three separate production facilities.
"Globally, Gelita's collagen peptides have experienced double-digit market growth with no sign of slowing in the future. As the pioneer in collagen peptide research and production, this production expansion further secures Gelita's position as market leader and allows for greater flexibility and future growth," Gelita marketing director Lara Niemann said.
Work on the expansion, which is expected to create up to 21 jobs, is set to begin this month with a completion in late 2018. The new facilities will expand the site's production capacity by 30 percent and feature state-of-the-art technology and equipment for the production of collagen peptides.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board in November approved $885,000 in financial incentives for the project, and the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors also approved $500,000 in tax increment financing rebates over a five-year period.
Gelita makes a variety of commercial gelatine products from pork skins and cattle bones at its plants at 2445 Port Neal Industrial Road. Those products are used as ingredients in foods and nutritional supplements for their protein content and physiological benefits.
The Port Neal complex, which employs about 250 people, is billed as the world's largest gelatine factory. Multiple beef and pork plants in the tri-state region supply raw products for Gelita, which began operations at the Port Neal site in 1968.
Gelita USA traces its roots to the Knox Gelatine Co., which was founded in 1890 in Johnstown, New York, by Charles B. Knox to provide an easier way to make gelatine. At the time, workers spent hours making the products from soup bones. Charles Knox introduced a convenient form of gelatine -- granulated for easy mixing.
In 1972, the T.J. Lipton Co. bought Kind & Knox from the Knox family. In 1992, DGF Stoess AG purchased Kind & Knox Gelatine Inc. from T.J. Lipton. Kind & Knox adopted the Gelita name in 2004.
In addition to the Port Neal site, Gelita operates a facility in Calumet City, Illinois. With its global headquarters in Eberbach, Germany, Gelita operates 21 production sites on five continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
The Port Neal expansion will broaden Gelita's global supply of collagen peptides from its broad and diverse product portfolio, Niemann said. This expansion will place the product much closer to the U.S. customer base.
Niemann said there is room for more expansion at the local plant if it's needed.
"As markets expand, Gelita is positioned to expand its facilities accordingly," Niemann said.