Gerber Products will invest $36 million and add up to 50 jobs at its Fremont facility as it expands its snacks portfolio.
The childhood nutrition company owned by Nestlé since 2007 said it will invest the amount in its original manufacturing facility in Fremont to increase its production of melts — or freeze-dried snacks made with yogurt and fruit, designed to melt in baby’s mouth — which is one of the fastest-growing segments across Gerber’s Snack portfolio with 15% growth year-to-date.
The Gerber Fremont facility, which opened in 1928, is at 405 State St. and currently employs more than 500 people in the area.
Gerber anticipates the advanced production needs will create up to 50 jobs for the community of Fremont. Those interested in these roles can apply at nestlejobs.com.
The company’s investment will allow for advanced technology additions, including freeze dryers and form-fill-seal machines for packaging lines that will occupy about 30,000 square feet of repurposed manufacturing space. The Fremont facility will now have full manufacturing and packaging capabilities to concentrate and shorten supply chain efforts, especially for melts.
“As the leader in infant and childhood nutrition, we are committed to meeting the growing needs of parents,” said Mansi Kothari, brand manager at Gerber. “Offering convenient, nutritious snack options parents can feel good about is a priority for Gerber and why we are expanding the portfolio with melts.”
The investment in the facility will contribute to additional technical positions related to both the advanced freeze-drying and form-fill-seal machines utilized in producing melts. Internal employees will have the first opportunity to apply to new hourly positions. Gerber Fremont leadership is in discussion with local union leaders on the process to fill newly created jobs.
“We are thrilled to see the number of Gerber Fremont employees grow with the advancement of our snack portfolio with melts,” said Andrew Willis, factory manager at Gerber. “We take great pride being the home of Gerber, and we are looking forward to many more years of growth and commitment within the Fremont community.”
The Right Place worked closely with Gerber and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to solidify the investment in West Michigan. The Right Place also connected the company to workforce development resources at Michigan Works! West Central to assist with workforce recruitment and training, as well as Consumers Energy, which helped to reduce costs and promote clean energy business practices.
The Michigan Strategic Fund authorized a 10-year Renaissance Zone in support of the project, and Newaygo County and the city of Fremont passed resolutions of support for the Renaissance Zone.
“Gerber’s Fremont facility has been a critical component of our regional economy for decades,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO, The Right Place. “Beyond providing hundreds of quality advanced manufacturing jobs with competitive wages, Gerber also supports the regional agribusiness industry and has strong relationships with local growers and suppliers. This investment will strengthen Gerber’s presence in the region and position the agribusiness industry for continued growth.”
Founded in 1928 by Daniel Frank Gerber, owner of the Fremont Canning Company, which produced canned fruit and vegetables, Gerber Products Inc. today produces nearly 190 food products labeled in 16 languages and distributed to 80 countries around the globe.