Across the United States, dairy plants expand capacity, jobs

Editor’s note: Plants in Progress is a special segment spotlighting new facilities and expansion in the U.S. dairy sector. As the industry works to meet new demand, growth and expansion are inevitable. Here, we provide a glimpse into new cheese and dairy plants and expansions across the country — from initial groundbreaking to full operation, and everything in between.

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Despite ongoing challenges across the supply chain, global economic uncertainty and workforce shortages, cheese and dairy manufacturers are seeing robust growth, leading to facility expansions and new jobs across the United States.

As U.S. consumers continue to seek out specialty cheeses that not only offer enhanced flavors but also specialized health and wellness attributes, cheese companies are investing in increased capacity, new equipment and technologies, and employees who are experts in various scientific capacities. Meanwhile, as global appetites for dairy proteins grow, dairy manufacturers are expanding capacity for dry products to export overseas. Logistics providers also seek to mitigate ongoing supply chain snags with increased warehouse and storage capacity and logistical efficiencies.

Investment in dairy plants at academic institutions across the United States also is ramping up from Wisconsin to Idaho. Generous industry and state support of renovations at esteemed universities will offer opportunities for the next generation of dairy leaders to research, learn, innovate and create in new, revamped spaces featuring state-of-the-art equipment and technologies.

Please read on for more on these Plants in Progress ...


Photo courtesy of Bongards Creameries
WAREHOUSE EXPANSION — Bongards Creameries is adding 70,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space to its plant in Perham, Minnesota. Pictured above is the interior racking in the new warehouse space. Bongards anticipates startup of the new cooler will begin in mid-October.

Bongards Creameries, Perham, Minnesota

Bongards Creameries is adding 70,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space to its plant in Perham, Minnesota.

Evan Carlson, vice president of marketing, says the construction of the cheese cooler is complete, and the company currently is in the process of completing final refrigeration and utility work. Bongards anticipates startup of the new cooler will begin in mid-October.

The previous refrigerated warehouse space will be converted into additional dry storage for the plant, further eliminating the need for outside storage. The new warehouse is located east of the current plant on property that had been purchased by Bongards over the last several years.

Meanwhile, the Perham plant has several others projects underway that support the ongoing maintenance of the plant, but the new systems will represent significant improvements to efficiency and sustainability of the operation, Carlson adds.

He notes a new vat room is being built and will have an all new vat system installed, replacing the current system. The new vats are expected to be operational in the spring of 2023.

A new evaporator room also is being built and is expected to be operational in the fall of 2023.

• Bunker Hill Cheese Co., Berlin Township, Ohio

Bunker Hill Cheese Co. recently announced an investment of $104,000 in its Holmes County, Ohio, facility, which will create 10 new jobs.

The investment includes the purchase of new machinery and equipment to increase the production of niche products, including Cheese Crisps keto-friendly snacks. The new equipment also will support the company’s sales to Hormel, which are included in protein-based snack packs under the Applegate brand.

JobsOhio supported the project with a $50,000 JobsOhio Inclusion Grant, and Ohio Southeast Economic Development assisted the company with the grant process. The JobsOhio Inclusion Grant exists to provide financial support for eligible projects in designated distressed communities and/or for businesses owned by underrepresented populations across the state.

A third-generation, family-owned Ohio company, Bunker Hill Cheese Co. operates a cheese product manufacturing facility and retail outlet using locally sourced milk. The company sells a variety of products nationwide.


Photo courtesy of Dairy Farmers of America
IMPROVEMENTS IN ZUMBROTA — Dairy Farmers America recently expanded its plant in Zumbrota, Minnesota, where is produced hard Italian and American cheeses for foodservice and other manufacturers in the region. The expansion included a new spray dryer as well as a new wastewater treatment facility.

• Byrne Dairy, Cortlandville, New York

Byrne Dairy Inc. late last year announced it is making another major investment in its dairy processing facility in Cortlandville, New York.

Byrne is investing $25 million to retool the facility, originally built in 2014, to produce extended-shelf-life (ESL) and shelf-stable dairy products.

“Throughout the design process, we have made several modifications to ease the next phases of expansion and as a result have moved our production date out a few months,” company officials say. “Currently, we are targeting the start of production in late October to early November 2022 and have additional utility, processing and filling production upgrades online throughout mid-2023.”

Byrne Dairy notes these upgrades will help fulfill the company’s current and new customer orders throughout 2023 and beyond as well as support its continued growth projects at its existing DeWitt, New York, facility.

The project currently is wrapping up the exterior construction work and finalizing the last of the equipment installation with commissioning scheduled to start in the next several weeks, officials add, noting Byrne Dairy’s plant teams have been training on the ESL equipment at its DeWitt facility and are eager to jump into the commissioning process of their own plant.

• Dairy Farmers of America, Zumbrota, Minnesota

Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) plant in Zumbrota, Minnesota, recently held an open house for the local community to celebrate an expansion at the facility.

The 85,000-square-foot plant expansion included a new spray dryer that will produce up to 30% more specialty cheese powder annually, which is sold to end use customers to make cheese snacks and meals. The expansion also included a full wastewater treatment plant to replace the previous wastewater pretreatment plant.

The Zumbrota plant produces hard Italian cheese (Parmesan and Romano) as well as American cheeses (Cheddar and Monterey Jack). These cheeses are used at other DFA plants in the region for foodservice and other food manufacturers, officials say.

The Zumbrota plant helps support local dairy farmers in the area, taking in more than 1.5 million pounds of raw milk every day


Photo courtesy of Darigold Inc.
EXPANSION AND INNOVATION — Darigold Inc. in September held a commemorative groundbreaking at the site of its future Pasco, Washington, production facility. When fully operational, the plant will have the capacity to produce approximately 175 million pounds of butter per year and nearly 280 million pounds of powdered milk annually. Pictured, from left, are dairy farmers and Darigold Directors Mike Schoneveld, Jason Sheehan, Case VanderMeulen and David Silva; Allan Huttema, chairman of the Darigold board; Tony Freeman, vice chairman of the Darigold board; Jeremy Visser, Darigold director; and Joe Coote,CEO of Darigold.

• Darigold Inc., Pasco, Washington

Darigold Inc. last month hosted a commemorative groundbreaking ceremony at the site of its future Pasco, Washington, production facility. When fully operational, the $600 million facility will process approximately 8 million pounds of milk per day from more than 100 dairy farms in surrounding communities. Darigold expects the facility to be operational by early 2024 and plans to hire about 200 employees.

“The Pasco project represents our third major capital investment in as many years, the largest investment in our co-op’s 104-year history and a significant step in an ongoing strategy to expand and modernize Darigold,” says Joe Coote, CEO, Darigold.

The Pasco facility will be outfitted with two specialized milk dryers and two packaging lines for powdered milk products or “premium proteins,” two butter churns, two bulk butter packaging lines for commercial and institutional customers, and five consumer butter packaging lines.

When fully operational, the facility will have the capacity to produce approximately 175 million pounds of butter per year and nearly 280 million pounds of powdered milk annually, including products that meet the highest industry specifications for use in the most sensitive applications such as infant formula. The facility’s proximity to rail lines and global shipping ports will help the co-op realize transportation efficiencies for products going to both domestic and global customers, company officials say.

In addition to adding capacity to Darigold’s overall production capability, the new Pasco facility will incorporate a variety of innovative technologies and conservation strategies that combined could mitigate more than 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, the company notes.

The milk dryers in the new facility will include state-of-the-art dryer burner technology that significantly reduces nitrogen oxide emissions, making it one of the lowest nitrogen oxide emitting milk dryer facilities in the state of Washington. The co-op also is in talks with the City of Pasco for the planned expansion of its Process Water Reuse Facility (PWRF). The expanded PWRF will treat agriculture-related wastewater from local food processors using a set of anaerobic digesters, which will generate renewable natural gas (cleaned from methane) for sale in the West Coast renewable natural gas market.


Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
DIGGING IN AT DECATUR —Steve Stettler, left, co-owner of Decatur Dairy, and John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, were on-site in August for the groundbreaking of a 24,000-square-foot expansion to add packaging, curing and warehouse capacity at Decatur’s plant in Brodhead, Wisconsin.

• Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, Wisconsin

Decatur Dairy and members of the Decatur Swiss Cheese Co. Cooperative in August officially broke ground on a $6 million cheese plant edition in Brodhead, Wisconsin. The 24,000-square-foot expansion will add packaging, curing and warehousing capacity.

Coinciding with the expansion is a change to the dairy’s business structure. The co-op previously owned the land and building, while the dairy owned the equipment and handled the marketing. Now a new company — Decatur Cheese Plant LLC, a 50/50 joint venture between the dairy and co-op — will own the building and land. The dairy will continue to handle marketing and will own the equipment, while the co-op members have secured a 20-year agreement for their milk to go to the plant.

The expansion was made possible in part by a recent grant for dairy processors from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

• Dot Foods Inc., Manchester, Tennessee, and Ingersoll, Ontario

Dot Foods Inc., a food industry redistributor, recently broke ground on its 13th U.S. distribution center in Manchester, Tennessee. Dot already has a facility in Dyersburg, Tennessee, which was opened in 2015. The new Manchester distribution center will create more than 250 jobs in the first three years of operation.

Dot will invest $50.5 million into the 177,000-square-foot Manchester facility, which will include offices and dry, refrigerated and frozen warehouse space as well as an on-site garage. The L-shaped design of the building gives Dot the ability to easily expand all warehouse and office spaces in future years to meet its growing customer demand in the southeastern United States, company officials say.

Meanwhile, Dot Foods Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Dot Foods, recently marked the groundbreaking of the company’s new distribution center in Ingersoll, Ontario.

Dot is making a C$50 million investment with the new 168,875-square-foot facility. Dot initially established operations in Canada in 2016 with the purchase of Canadian food redistributor Marketwest and set up distribution centers in Calgary, Alberta and Brampton, Ontario.

When the Ingersoll facility is complete in spring 2023, it will replace operations at the currently leased Brampton location, officials note. Phase one of the Ingersoll distribution center will include offices and dry, refrigerated and frozen warehouse space. In the future, Dot officials say the company plans to add on-site garage facilities to support the Dot Transportation Canada fleet.


Rendering courtesy of Emmi Roth USA
ONGOING GROWTH — Emmi Roth is building a new 134,000-square-foot headquarters and conversion facility in Stoughton, Wisconsin. The new facility will be built with sustainable features including native plant landscaping, low-flow plumbing fixtures, heat recovery and more.

• Emmi Roth USA, Stoughton, Wisconsin

Emmi Roth in August held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new 134,000-square-foot headquarters and cheese conversion facility in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

The facility’s primary purpose is cheese conversion, which is the process of taking cheeses from their original, larger form and crumbling, shredding or portioning them into end form. Conversion allows Emmi Roth to provide different packaging options to customers and consumers based on their needs — which may be a cup, bag, chunk, wedge or other form.

The new facility will support Emmi Roth’s recent acquisition of Athenos, the No. 1 Feta brand in America, which strengthened the company’s long-standing dedication to the specialty cheese industry. With the acquisition came the need for more conversion and distribution capabilities, the company notes.

The facility also will become the new Emmi Roth headquarters, housing the corporate office team. Its current corporate office in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, will remain operational until the building project is complete. The Stoughton location will add to existing Emmi Roth locations in Monroe, Platteville and Seymour, Wisconsin.

The new facility will be built with sustainable features, including native plant landscaping, low-flow plumbing fixtures, high-recycled content in building finishes, heat recovery, smart ventilation and more — all working toward Emmi Roth’s sustainability goals, the company notes. It also will increase distribution capabilities and add 100 new local jobs. Additionally, it reduces the business’ footprint by combining multiple areas of the business under one roof.

Project completion is anticipated in the third quarter of 2023. Emmi Roth already has begun hiring management positions for the new facility, including Greg Majkrzak, technical manager; Tim Hilgers, plant manager; Seth

Rehbaum, senior HR business partner; and Brian Birkhimer, logistics manager. The company plans to begin next year hiring employees for the conversion plant.


Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Cheese
PACKAGING PLANT — Construction on a new packaging facility for Great Lakes Cheese in Abilene, Texas, is on track to be completed by early November, officials say.

• Great Lakes Cheese, Abilene, Texas, and Franklinville, New York

Great Lakes Cheese last spring began construction on a new packaging plant in Abilene, Texas.
The company says onboarding new employee-owners for the facility is well underway. Construction of the new plant is on track to be completed by early November, and Great Lakes Cheese will begin commercialization in mid-November.

“We are excited to finally begin operations in the Abilene community,” company officials say.

Great Lakes Cheese also is building a new manufacturing and packaging plant in Franklinville, New York. With a capital investment of more than $500 million, the project is the largest infrastructure investment in the company’s history and will nearly double the size of its current workforce in the Southern Tier of New York.

The new plant will replace the existing facility in Cuba, New York, upon completion. Although the Cuba facility will cease operations with Great Lakes Cheese, discussions are underway to identify possible future uses for the site, company officials say.

The Franklinville project is on track to start limited production in 2024, and will be completed in early 2025, company officials say, noting Great Lakes Cheese would like to recognize and thank the communities of Farmersville and Franklinville for their warm welcome and ongoing support.


Photo courtesy of Hilmar Cheese Co.
WELCOME TO KANSAS — Hilmar Cheese Co. is building a new state-of-the-art cheese and whey protein processing plant in Dodge City, Kansas. The company broke ground on the project late last month. The new facility is expected to create 250 new jobs and represents more than $600 million in capital investment.

• Hilmar Cheese Co., Dodge City, Kansas

Hilmar Cheese Co. is building a new state-of-the-art cheese and whey protein processing plant in Dodge City, Kansas. The company broke ground on the project late last month.

The new facility is expected to create 250 new jobs and represents more than $600 million in capital investment.

“The Hilmar project is a game-changer for southwest Kansas in terms of job growth, opportunity and lifestyle benefits for those living in Dodge City and surrounding communities,” says Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, who attending the groundbreaking event with other state officials. “My administration is focused on ensuring prosperity reaches all parts of the state, and I couldn’t think of a better company to join us here.”

David Ahlem, president and CEO of Hilmar Cheese, says the Dodge City community has a local and skilled labor force, a supportive and expanding agricultural region, and an excellent transportation network.

“It is a great location to invest in the future,” he says.

Hilmar Cheese notes it has adopted the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment and goal to achieve a net zero dairy industry by 2050. The Dodge City facility will incorporate the latest technology and advancements in conservation and sustainability. A state-of-the-art instrumentation and control systems will minimize the water needed to keep the plant clean and minimize energy usage. Recycled water will be used further in processing protein, to clean the facility and equipment, and to reclaim waste heat. The equipment will utilize the latest technology, such as upgraded spray nozzles for more efficient cleaning.

The process will reuse rinse water. The latest equipment, instrumentation and automated controls technology will reduce overall energy use.

Local leaders cited Hilmar Cheese as a valued partner and welcomed the company to the Dodge City community, noting Hilmar Cheese offers competitive wages, great benefits and training along with long-term career growth opportunities.

Hilmar Cheese Co. is working with contractor Ryan and Co., design consultants Bennets & Pless, Randal Paulson and Olsson, and process design consultant IGRL.

Hilmar expects the facility to be fully operational in 2024.

• Leprino Foods Co., Lubbock, Texas

Denver-based Leprino Foods Co. recently broke ground on its new 850,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in East Lubbock, Texas. Supported by world-class food safety, operations, training and maintenance programs, as well as monitored and controlled through leading edge automation and instrumentation, the facility expands Leprino’s existing domestic network of manufacturing facilities.

The plant will be constructed in two phases. Phase one construction will be completed in late 2024 and operational in early 2025. Phase two is slated to be completed by early 2026. This investment will result in $10.6 billion over the next 10 years for the state of Texas. The plant will be supplied by regional dairies and roughly 200 milk trucks per day to produce more than 1 million pounds of cheese daily. Other products that will be produced at this facility include dairy ingredients such as whey and lactose.

Leprino Foods is in the beginning stages of hiring full-time positions to manage the 24/7/365 facility.

Team members will have the opportunity to train at one of Leprino Foods’ facilities across the country while the Lubbock plant is under construction. Other positions will range from production operations and maintenance to technical engineers and human resources. The total annual payroll at the facility will be more than $33 million with competitive wages.

• Masters Gallery Foods, Oostburg, Wisconsin

Masters Gallery Foods Inc. this spring completed the second phase of an expansion to its production and distribution facility in Oostburg, Wisconsin, bringing total area to approximately 275,000 square feet.

The expansion doubled the previous production space, allowing for new packaging equipment for increased capacity, while also expanding both bulk and finished goods warehouse spaces. Masters Gallery Foods President and CEO Jeff Gentine says this expansion will help the company meet increasing retail and foodservice demand across its core segments of shreds, slices, bars and snack sticks. The new manufacturing capacity and warehouse space also will help to minimize product transfers across the company’s facilities.

“As far as physical building expansions, this should hold us over for a few years, and then we’ll see where our strategic growth plans take us. We will continue to invest in Wisconsin, but it’s very likely we will look to expand out of state at some point to better serve customers located further from Wisconsin and take advantage of growing cheese supply from outside the upper Midwest,” Gentine says.

Initial construction of the Oostburg facility was completed in May 2018 and has led to nearly 250 new jobs for Sheboygan County since production began.

The expansion was supported in part with up to $1.5 million in performance-based state tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

• Milano’s Cheese, Linden, New Jersey

Milano’s Cheese recently broke ground on a 30,000-square-foot addition to its Linden, New Jersey, facility. The addition will house corporate headquarters as well as expand storage facilities, making room for future capacity expansion in the main plant, notes Anthony Caliendo, vice president of sales and marketing for J.V.M. Sales Corp., dba Milano’s Cheese. It is expected to be complete in 2023.

Family owned and operated for more than 39 years, Milano’s Cheese specializes in hard grated Italian cheeses.


Photo courtesy of Nelson-Jameson
INVESTMENT IN IDAHO — Nelson-Jameson last week held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new distribution facility in Jerome, Idaho. The facility is the company’s single-largest investment in its 75-year history. When complete, it will be the company’s most technologically advanced facility to date and will include approximately 1.5 million cubic feet of combined storage and maintenance space.

• Nelson-Jameson, Jerome, Idaho

Local dignitaries, Iowa Gov. Brad Little and Nelson-Jameson executives participated in a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 27 to celebrate and kick off the building of Nelson-Jameson’s new distribution facility in Jerome, Idaho. The groundbreaking was a monumental moment for the company, which has been leasing a property in Twin Falls, Idaho, for more than 20 years.

“We’ve had a facility in Twin Falls since 2001, so we’re familiar with the area, its people and its abundant opportunities,” says Adam Nelson, Nelson-Jameson owner and chairman of the board. “Our goal is to be of service to our customers, helping them to grow and be more successful. We hope our increased presence in the Magic Valley will help existing food producers do just that, and perhaps attract additional ones to the area as well.”

In the fall of 2019, Nelson-Jameson purchased 19 acres of land on the south end of the City of Jerome for the new facility. When complete, the building will be the company’s most technologically advanced facility to date and will include approximately 1.5 million cubic feet of combined storage and maintenance area, as well as many environmentally friendly design elements with key attention to sustainability, officials say.

“Nelson-Jameson’s new distribution center in Jerome is the single-largest investment we’ve made in our 75-year history,” Nelson says. “It shows our commitment to Jerome, the Magic Valley, Idaho and the greater Northwest.”

• O-AT-KA Milk Products, Batavia, New York

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors recently approved an agreement supporting O-AT-KA Milk Products LLC’s 3,200-square-foot facility expansion in the town of Batavia, New York.

O-AT-KA Milk Products’ proposed $3.1 million investment will house two new 18,000-gallon tanks to increase capacities of cream-based liquor beverages and future expansions. The project is proposing to create two new jobs at a leading employer in Genesee County’s food and beverage manufacturing ecosystem.

O-AT-KA Milk Products has been a part of the Genesee County community since 1959. Some of the company’s products include dairy-based beverages, evaporated milk, butter, milk powder and other dairy products. This investment allows O-AT-KA Milk Products to diversify its offerings of dairy-based beverages.

O-AT-KA Milk Products requested approximately $208,109 in property, sales and mortgage tax benefits. According to GCEDC, the project is estimated to generate $3.5 million of local fiscal benefits over 10 years from project-related payroll and increased tax revenues, equal to $27 dollars in economic activity for every $1 of public investment.

• Perfect Day, Salt Lake City, Utah

Perfect Day Inc., a biotechnology company and developer of an animal-free milk protein, earlier this year joined The Gateway’s community of life science tenants in Salt Lake City with more than 200,000 square feet currently leased. Construction began this spring on a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as Perfect Day’s second U.S. location (in addition to Berkeley, California) and a critical base for its fast-growing Enterprise Biology business.

The expansion to Salt Lake City is in partnership with the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity for an EDTIF tax credit. Over the next four years, Perfect Day plans to add more than 60 new high-paying positions to its Salt Lake City team.

“This second U.S. base will expand and diversify our technology capabilities, allowing us to accelerate our impact and business reach with the addition of new infrastructure, resources and connection to the vitality of the biotech talent growing in the Salt Lake City community,” says TM Narayan, Perfect Day’s chief of business operations. “This move further solidifies our commitment to the region following the acquisition of our Enterprise Biology facility in 2020 and partnership with the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity last year.”


Photo courtesy of Saputo Inc.
EXPANDING NETWORK — Saputo Dairy USA earlier this year broke ground on a 340,000-square-foot production facility in Franklin, Wisconsin. Company officials say the new plant is an integral part of the company’s strategy to optimize its cheese network.

• Saputo Dairy USA, Franklin, Wisconsin

Saputo Dairy USA in May broke ground on a site for a new state-of-the-art production facility. The new project in Franklin, Wisconsin, is an integral part of the company’s strategy to optimize its cheese network and improve production capabilities across its U.S. footprint, laying the groundwork for future growth, company officials say. Saputo leaders were joined by local officials and construction contracting partners to celebrate the groundbreaking.

Officials say the target is to have the new plant begin operations in early 2023; however, they anticipate that this date may be adjusted based on contributing factors such as weather, construction and supply chain issues.

The new facility will be around 340,000 square feet. In terms of employment, the facility will ramp up in phases. When it is fully operational, there will be more than 600 employees working at this facility.


Photo by Nicole Hansen Photography
HISTORY RESTORED — The restored Seven Acre Dairy in Paoli, Wisconsin, is set to open its doors in December. In addition to an artisanal dairy plant, the property features a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar, cafe and retail store. Its 7 acres also encompasses hiking trails and gardens.

• Seven Acre Dairy Co., Paoli, Wisconsin

Seven Acre Dairy Co., an artisanal dairy plant focused on farm-to-scoop ice cream and butter using milk from many of the same farm families that delivered to the original factory in Paoli, Wisconsin, before it was shuttered in 1980, is on track to open its doors in December.

Nicolaas Mink, co-founder and former CEO of Sitka Salmon Shares, and his wife, Danika Laine, a marketing executive, purchased the 21,000-square-foot former dairy factory on 7 acres of land along the Sugar River at 6858 Paoli Road, a short 15-minute drive from Madison, late last year.

They initially sought to restore part of the factory, but after learning more about the building’s history, they decided to undertake a major restoration of the entire building and received approval to list the property on the State and National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to the artisanal dairy plant, the property also features a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar, café and retail store. The property’s 7 acres also boasts a fully-restored oak savanna and prairie, with hiking trails, a boat landing and gardens.

When Mink and Laine sought to return part of the building to a working dairy, they only had to look down the street in Paoli to find their partners. Anna Thomas Bates and Anna Landmark, co-owners of Landmark Creamery, will lead Seven Acre’s dairy program as the company’s chief dairy officers.

It was an opportune time to approach Landmark Creamery: The company is in the process of expanding its own operations from a retail shop and cheese aging facility to include all aspects of dairy production.

This will include buying milk from small family farms in the area, which will allow Landmark Creamery to expand its cheesemaking capacity. Landmark Creamery will run a small butter plant within the historic Seven Acre dairy building that will be entirely viewable to the public. Meanwhile, ice cream production will be handled through the Seven Acre culinary team.

Thomas Bates notes that Landmark Creamery is in the process of obtaining its butter making license at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research.

“We’re still figuring out final time lines for having all butter equipment in and our license,” she says, noting there is a backup plan in place to have butter available if Landmark is not making it there at the exact time of opening.

Mink says a two-week launch period of local and statewide civic leaders, influencers and open houses for people in the local and adjacent communities is planned for early December.

“We’ll use those two weeks to test our systems and get things squared away for the various pieces of the properties,” he says, noting the inn and restaurant will begin taking reservations in mid-November, about three to four weeks before opening.

“It’s all come together better than we could have hoped,” he says. “We’ve had an amazing amount of community support, particularly from the dairy farmers who have been incredibly excited about this project because redeveloping this property is bringing it full circle for them.

“Many if not all of the local dairy farmers in the area remember when this is where they brought their milk, and remember stopping and getting cream from the property and purchasing butter. They’re incredibly enthusiastic to have dairy to return in a way that sort of honors and celebrates the heritage of this building and the work that they did, but also modernizes it for a newer generation and a newer purpose. It’s been cool and exciting,” he adds.

• The Kroger Co./Tamarack Farms Dairy, Newark, Ohio

The Kroger Co. earlier this year announced a 35,000-square-foot expansion at Tamarack Farms Dairy in Newark, Ohio, to support the implementation of a state-of-the-art aseptic milk line, capable of manufacturing products such as half and half, heavy whipping cream, coffee creamers and Carbmaster milk beverage. The new line will allow the facility to support more than 150 jobs.

The aseptic milk line is part of Kroger’s large-scale efforts to deliver long-shelf-life, high-protein drinks, non-dairy and dairy products through modern technology, the company says.

Tamarack Farms Dairy, a 20-acre, state-of-the-art site, is the largest fluid dairy product producer in the state. The facility serves approximately 160 stores in Ohio and West Virginia and provides products for Kroger’s e-commerce channel. Kroger owns and operates dairy-producing facilities across the United States and offers customers nationwide a 10-day milk freshness guarantee.

• University of Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE), Rupert, Idaho

The Idaho Board of Land Commissioners recently approved a request by the University of Idaho (U of I) to purchase land central to its Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE).

Last year, 282 acres of Agricultural College endowment land in Caldwell, Idaho, were sold for $23.25 million, as it was no longer used for experimental farming. The proceeds were placed in the Land Bank fund to be used for the acquisition of real property. With its vote, the Land Board approved the use of proceeds from the Caldwell property to acquire 638 acres of farmland north of Rupert currently owned by the University of Idaho. The university’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences now will use the land from the endowment and the remaining funds to construct a state-of-the-art milking parlor on that property capable of serving a 2,000-head dairy herd.

Idaho’s dairy industry, which currently ranks third in the United States in both milk production and cheese production, strongly supports the U of I’s CAFE project. Industry has donated more than $8.5 million to the project to date.

The Idaho CAFE will be the largest and most advanced research center targeting the dairy and allied industries, according to the U of I. It will support a sustainable dairy production system located in a semi-arid environment. Idaho CAFE will support workforce development, education and community engagement in the state and region.

The CAFE will have three locations, including a Food Processing Pilot Plant located in Twin Falls on the College of Southern Idaho campus.

The core of CAFE is a 2,000-cow commercial-scale dairy located in Rupert. The site also consists of 1,200 additional acres for complementary agronomic research, feed production and nutrient management.

An Outlook and Education Center will be located in Jerome and will provide a window into agriculture, food production, water, power and energy.

• University of Wisconsin-Madison, Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and Center for Dairy Research, Madison, Wisconsin

The Babcock Hall building renovations will be reaching substantial completion this fall. Currently, contractors are working the with University of Wisconsin-Madison to complete equipment installation and system commissioning. The dairy plant is expected to begin operating in early 2023, according to Heidi Zoerb, associate dean, external relations and advancement, UW-Madison.

The Center for Dairy Research’s (CDR) pasteurizers are running, and the clean-in-place (CIP) system has been installed and currently is being used for research by CDR, Zoerb adds.

“One of the most exciting features is the specialty cheese area, with a state-of-the-art hygienic air conditioning system in the ripening rooms,” she says, noting CDR’s nine ripening rooms plus a Swiss warm room are being brought online with a variety of client and internal projects ranging from Camembert and Blue to Parmesan, Swiss and Taleggio.


Photo courtesy of University of Wisconsin-River Falls
SHINY AND NEW — Pictured above is the new cheese and ice cream processing room with stainless steel piping in progress at the renovated University of Wisconsin-River Falls Dairy Plant. Four new cheese vats are featured, notes Michelle Farner, faculty associate and Dairy Pilot Plant manager, UWRF.

• University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, Wisconsin

Naming opportunities are available to support the highly-anticipated University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) Dairy Plant renovation, set to be completed by the end of January 2023. A grand re-opening is planned in the spring.

UWRF renovated its 30-year-old dairy plant to provide teaching and training opportunities that will give graduates a competitive edge. The pilot plant has been completely rebuilt, doubling in size to 6,500 square feet.

Those interested in giving for the first time or expanding their support now can take advantage of additional naming opportunities at the $150,000 level, including the Dairy Plant Manager Office, Dairy Plant Van, Dairy Plant Lab and Dairy Plant Donor Alcove.

• US Foods, Marrero, Louisiana

US Foods Holding Corp. recently announced it has completed the expansion of its distribution center in Marrero, Louisiana. The facility has nearly tripled in size and houses a full assortment of broadline items.

It also includes a full-service demonstration kitchen and training center to support culinary innovation, as well as an interactive technology center where US Foods’ customers can learn about the company’s industry-leading, web-based business solutions.

US Foods customers served from the facility are supported by a team of dedicated restaurant operation consultants, culinary experts and sales staff. US Foods acquired Marrero-based F. Christiana in 2017 and began construction on the distribution center expansion in 2019.

In keeping with the company’s commitment to reducing the environmental footprint of its operations, the facility expansion is designed to meet rigorous Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification sustainability requirements. Energy and environmental improvements include energy-efficient refrigeration systems, energy-saving LED lighting, optimized HVAC systems and water-efficient landscaping.

“This is an important milestone for our growing Louisiana team as we continue to partner with local foodservice operators who support our vibrant and thriving New Orleans community,” says Dan Hildreth, US Foods market vice president. “We value our role in helping our local restaurants ‘make it’ with our differentiated and expanded resources and services and look forward to serving additional markets with our growing service footprint.”

The company will host an official grand opening celebration in November for local customers, vendors and community members. The event will include facility tours, culinary demonstrations and more.

• Valley Queen Cheese

Valley Queen Cheese held a groundbreaking event in May to celebrate its new expansion project in Milbank, South Dakota. More than 250 attendees, including Valley Queen employees and retirees, vendors, community partners, dairy producers and legislators, attended the event. The expansion is set to be fully operational by January 2025.

“Our customers have told us they want more cheese, and our dairy producers want to make more milk,” Valley Queen CEO Doug Wilke said in his remarks. “This three-year, $195 million expansion is our answer to those calls. It means 30,000 more cows, 140 new career opportunities, more families in our communities, growing schools and a busier Main Street. We’re proud to be part of this growth that will benefit so many across South Dakota.”

The expansion will be the largest in the company’s 93-year history.


Photo courtesy of WOW Logistics
GROWING SPACE AND JOBS — WOW Logistics recently completed construction of a state-of-the-art distribution center in Loves Park, Illinois. The facility, slated to go live next year, will store finished goods and raw materials, and create 36 jobs.

• WOW Logistics, Loves Park, Illinois

WOW Logistics recently completed construction of a state-of-the-art distribution center in Loves Park, Illinois. The facility features more than 118,000 square feet of temperature-controlled space with 3,000 square feet of office space.

WOW’s new Project Planning and Implementation (PPI) department joined the project team shortly after the department’s inception earlier this year. This group of subject matter experts, who generate data-driven solutions engineered to deliver maximum efficiency, were integral to the design of the Illinois distribution center, WOW officials say. Upon conducting initial inventory and workflow analysis, they programmed the building with an innovative dock layout that boosts productivity from a staging standpoint.

“Limited dock space is an issue you often see in the dairy industry,” says Chris Perkins, director of engineering, PPI. “This layout should prevent missed loads by providing optimum space for proper unloading and product staging prior to loading.”

The facility, slated to go live next year, will store finished goods and raw materials, and create 36 jobs. The design and labor plan will accommodate efficient full pallet in/full pallet out and case picking workflows.

“This facility will become a benchmark for us to showcase the value the PPI team has to offer,” says Arvind Goyal, vice president of PPI. “Our solution not only fulfills customers’ requirements but resolves gaps and helps clients stabilize their operations within 90 days of going live.”

WOW plans to expand the distribution center onto the adjacent lot. This upcoming build-to-lease opportunity would feature more than 148,000 square feet of ambient, cooler or freezer space.

Project plans for the expansion include 19 docks with one potential drive-in and the option to divide the facility into 50,000-square-foot sections. However, the future facility will be customized to fit the needs of a contracted tenant.

Visit to take a virtual tour of the existing facility located at 4907 Interstate Blvd.


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