US-based plant-based food and beverage platform The Fresh Factory has entered the pouch business by investing in pouching equipment.

The pouching equipment is intended to help the firm expand into new sales streams and strengthen its position in the clean-label manufacturing market.

It is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of this year.

The Fresh Factory will use the equipment to package foodservice pouches in sizes ranging from one pound to two gallons with hot and cold-fill options.

This investment will allow the company to package foodservice pouches for fruit and vegetables, spreads, condiments, salsas, sauces, dips and other products.

The company has also signed contracts with two customers to anchor the pouch line.

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The Fresh Factory commercialisation EVP Mike Weglarz said: “This new pouching capability will allow us to expand further into the foodservice sales channel, which we believe will dramatically increase both the breadth of our offering and our customer base.

“In addition, pouches provide an environmental advantage by using less plastic than larger rigid plastic containers, saving both on materials and freight costs.”

Based in Chicago, The Fresh Factory works to expedite the growth of fresh, clean-label, plant-based food and beverage brands.

The firm claims that it has developed a streamlined local supply chain by building direct relationships with farmers and integrating vertically.

The Fresh Factory CEO and co-founder Bill Besenhofer said: “We offer attractive farm-to-shelf turnkey solutions to our customers by streamlining and simplifying food sourcing, manufacturing, packing, and delivery processes.

“While the world is in a supply crisis, we continue to navigate fulfilment in the fresh food space.”

In December last year, The Fresh Factory entered a partnership with flexographic and digital printing company Inovar Packaging.

The company installed a high-speed shrink-sleeve labelling machine to expand its capabilities and contracted an anchor customer for the line, which is expected to produce one million bottles a year.