New cheese, whey facility slated for Michigan

Joint venture company hopes to launch processing facility in second half of 2019.

Glanbia PLC, Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA), the Michigan Milk Producers Assn. (MMPA) and Foremost Farms USA announced Jan. 27 that they are in advanced discussions to create a stand-alone joint venture to build and operate a new cheese and whey production facility in the state of Michigan. Upon completion, the plant is projected to process 8 million lb. of milk per day. It is proposed that 50% of the joint venture will be owned by Glanbia and the 50% balance will be owned by DFA, MMPA and Foremost Farms.

“Glanbia is delighted to announce this exciting proposed project in the state of Michigan with DFA, Michigan Milk Producers Assn. and Foremost Farms,” Brian Phelan, chief executive officer of of Glanbia Nutritionals, said. “Consistent with Glanbia’s growth strategy, this proposed venture will build on our position as the number-one producer of American-style cheddar cheese and simultaneously expand our global position as a supplier of advanced technology whey protein to the nutritional sector. This proposed joint venture is a strategic move by all of the partners to benefit from the growing large-scale milk pool in the state of Michigan.”

The Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) reported that the company is awaiting an investigation into infrastructure and potential tax incentives before announcing a final site. “We hear it has been narrowed down to three sites, and they’re all scattered from west to east to central lower Michigan,” Chuck Cortade, DFA's regional manager in Michigan, told MFB. “They’re hoping to break ground this fall and have it going in the fall of 2019.”

As part of the proposed joint venture, DFA, MMPA and Foremost Farms would supply all milk required by the plant, while Glanbia will have full responsibility for all commercial, technical and operational aspects of the business. If the project proceeds as planned, commissioning of the new facility is expected to take place in the second half of 2019.

“This is welcome news to Michigan, and we certainly commend our co-ops for working together and finding a company that is willing to invest in our dairy industry,” said Ernie Birchmeier, dairy and livestock specialist with MFB. “Eight million pounds, if my math is right, amounts to the milk from approximately 100,000 cows, considering an 80 lb. average. The extra processing capacity will be critical to the growth of our dairy industry.”

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