Solae has been a familiar name in the MidAmerica Industrial Park for years, but as of May of last year, DuPont purchased full ownership of the plant. Along with a new name, DuPont Nutrition Center, the company plans to become more involved in the community.
“We’re excited to be a part of this community, we understand we have to earn the right to operate here,” said Aaron Woods, Regional Public Affairs Manager of DuPont. “We want to partner with an organization or be part of a community event. As far as choosing, we are going to talk to the employees to find out their passions and where their hearts lie. We are going to talk to community leaders and determine, and work with them to find our niche.
“Having our employees involved in the community changes the culture of the plant. It changes productivity and commitment to safety. It’s a holistic approach,” said Woods.
Though Solae has been present in the Pryor for years, the community is unsure what it does.
According to the website, Solae is the world leader in developing soy-based technologies and ingredients enjoyed by consumers around the world.
“The world needs more food while using fewer resources. Soy protein is environmentally sustainable, economically efficient and a healthy alternative to meet growing global demands,” according to the website.
The Solae company began 50 years ago and has made innovations in both product and technology in that time. In 2012, Solae was named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by Ethisphere Institute, for the third year in a row.
Solae’s soy protein is present in baked goods, beverages, nutrition bars, meats, vegetarian meals and much more.
With the change of ownership, things will change very little for the 180-plus employees at the Pryor plant. Woods said the plant will not have any employment changes, including lay-offs.
DuPont boasts an equally innovative track record.
“At DuPont, we’re putting science to work — improving the nutritional value of food, ensuring food safety, and finding smart, sustainable solutions to feed a growing population,” according to the official website.
“DuPont began in 1802 manufacturing explosives. This meant manufacturing gun powder during the Revolutionary War. Later we invented things like kevlar and nylon. Now in the 21st century, we have begun to look at the overall global climate,” said Wood. “We want to reduce the global dependence on fossil fuels.”
Woods explained how this process will work. DuPont has developed seeds, for soybeans, that require less water and yield more crop. This enables the beans to better withstand drought conditions.
DuPont has made a name for themselves in protection, chemical innovation and food technology.
Wood said Solae fits perfectly into the food and nutrition portion of their company.
“The food strategy for us is core to our company. Solae is critical to us,” said Wood.
DuPont has won awards of their own. In 2012 alone they were named one of 50 Most Admired Companies by Fortune Magazine, one of 100 Most Innovative Companies, Best in Industry and Top 100 Best Places to work for Working Mothers, among others.
Walking through the Solae, now DuPont Nutrition and Health, the sanitation and safety precautions are obvious.
“When a customer sees our bags, our products, that’s how they judge our company,” said David Steddum, unit manager “If our bag isn’t clean, if it’s damaged or half full, our consumers won’t purchase it any more.”
Steddum explained the sanitation steps taken to ensure quality control in the 150,000 kilograms of protein produced daily. Everything in the plant, even the maintenance area, is sanitary.
While it is subject to regular Food and Drug Administration and Department of Environmental Quality inspections, the plant has other requirements to meet.
“Because of some of the countries we export to, we have to be certified kosher so a rabbi comes in to check everything out,” said Steddum
“We do our best to meet the requirements for all of our consumers dietary, safety and religious needs,” said Wood.
“Different countries also have restrictions on genetically modified foods, so there are some countries we can’t export to. We’re continually working with other countries to help them understand the science behind our product,” said Wood.
“As people come to understand what it is we do, we hope they will welcome us as a part of their community,” said Wood.