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Foremost Farms USA sells Minnesota plant

New Preston Protein Products entity will be joint venture between Diversified Ingredients and Johnson Farms.

Foremost Farms USA plans to sell its Preston, Minn., manufacturing facility to Diversified Ingredients, according to an Oct. 20 announcement. The final closing on the sale will take place on or before Nov. 18, 2020.

The Foremost Farms dairy cooperative is Wisconsin’s largest cheese manufacturer.

Diversified Ingredients, headquartered in Ballwin, Mo., provides quality products and services to the food ingredient, pet food and feed industries.

The new entity will be called Preston Protein Products and will be a joint venture between Diversified Ingredients and Johnson Farms Inc. of Lime Springs, Iowa.

Built in 1924, the Preston plant offers milk separation, condensing and drying services for organic dairy fluid and ingredient marketers. Foremost Farms primarily focuses its whey products in the infant formula markets. The Preston plant is not set up to meet the demanding requirements of this customer base but is best suited to serve smaller market segments (e.g., organic) as well as to manufacture specialized products that require smaller volumes. Hence, Foremost Farms said it is not well positioned to serve these markets.

“Manufacturing footprints continually evolve and change,” Foremost Farms president and chief executive officer Greg Schlafer said. “While it’s difficult to see employees leave the cooperative, an owner focused on building on Preston’s established capabilities offers the best opportunity for the plant and its workers.”

Schlafer explained that the company invested in the plant three years ago and updated the dryer.

“It was the right decision at the time. Today, it gives the plant a base to build a future as a viable specialty drying operation with Diversified Ingredients. Diversified Ingredients is an employee-owned company with an excellent reputation. We look forward to continuing to work with them in the future,” he said.

Matthew Collins, Diversified Ingredients managing partner, said Foremost Farms and Johnson Farms have been valued partners of Diversified Ingredients for more than 30 years.

“We are excited about this new chapter of our relationship and look forward to expanding our services into the many specialty markets we service with the drying, separation and blending capabilities that this facility offers. The Preston manufacturing facility has a long history of manufacturing quality dairy products. We look forward to continuing this tradition and working with the excellent team that has been established.”

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