Michigan dairy processing expands


An illustration of Foremost Farms’ new dairy processing plant in Michigan.

By Jessie Cameron
Michigan dairy processors are rapidly increasing capacity as two new dairy processing facilities will be built during the next few years while a current site is expanding.
In April, Agropur Inc., a subsidiary of Canadian-based Agropur Cooperative, announced plans to put $21.3 million into its current plant in Wyoming, Mich., by adding new equipment and making modifications to the facilities. Foremost Farms is building a new $59.7 million processing facility in Greenville, while a partnership with Glanbia plc, Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers Inc. is working together on a plan to bring a new processing facility online in 2020.
Michigan ranks sixth nationally in milk production. The state produces 33 million pounds of milk daily, but currently has processing capacity for just 26 million pounds a day. Increasing milk processing capacity is a must to help Michigan’s dairy industry to keep growing, according to industry and economic leaders.

“Agropur’s decision to invest $21.3 million and create more than 60 jobs is a tremendous win for West Michigan and the region’s growing food processing sector,” said Thad Rieder, senior business development manager for the City of Wyoming economic development organization, The Right Place.
Foremost Farms announced plans for its new processing facility last November. The plant in Greenville is 30 miles from the center of Foremost Farms’ cooperative members in Michigan.
“It is an ideal location as a manufacturing base for Foremost Farms USA to unify our seven-state cooperative membership’s milk,” said Foremost Farms’ President and CEO Michael Doyle.
With members in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, Foremost Farms primarily has processing in plants in Wisconsin with seven cheese plants, three ingredients plants and a butter plant. Another ingredients plant is located in Minnesota. This would be cooperative’s first processing plant in Michigan.
Jeff Mason, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC), said the processing plant will help elevate the profile of Michigan’s dairy industry and increase farmer profitability.
“Foremost Farms’ decision to further invest here demonstrates to other global companies Michigan’s standing as one of the great agriculture centers in the U.S. with a business climate that enables their success,” he said.
Glanbia plc, DFA and Select Milk Producers plan to open their new large-scale cheese and whey production facility during the second half of 2020. The facility will have the capacity to process 8 million pounds of milk per day into about 135,000 metric tons of cheese and whey products annually for U.S. and international markets. No public announcement of the facility’s location has been made.
Under the deal put together, Glanbia will hold 50 percent of the equity of the new facility with DFA and Select holding the balance. Glanbia will be the operational, technical and commercial partner in the joint venture, which mirrors the arrangement the partners have in the Southwest Cheese facility in Clovis, N.M. Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) will continue to participate in the project as a strategic milk supplier to the new facility.
“Michigan is ideally situated for continued milk production growth and has ideal proximity to serve not only major U.S. markets, but also the global marketplace,” said DFA chief financial officer Greg Wickham.