Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest grocer, announced this week plans to establish a milk processing plant in Ft. Wayne, Ind., providing new opportunities for Indiana’s dairy industry and creating more than 200 good-paying jobs — ranging from milk processing to transportation — by the end of 2017.
“Today, Indiana’s agriculture industry contributes $31 billion to the state’s economy and supports more than 100,000 Hoosier jobs,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said. “Last year, Walmart opened a 1.2 million squ. ft. distribution center in Plainfield, creating more than 300 jobs, and today, we celebrate 200 more. I’m proud to welcome this expansion as we work to create quality jobs for Hoosiers and support our Indiana farmers.”
With construction anticipated to begin this summer, Walmart will build a more than 250,000 sq. ft. milk processing plant, which is expected to be one of the largest in the industry. The highly efficient plant will leverage the latest technologies to produce Great Value and Member’s Mark white and chocolate milk for more than 600 Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and northern Kentucky. Walmart estimates that milk processing will begin in the summer of 2017.
“By operating our own plant and working directly with the dairy supply chain in the Midwest, we’ll further reduce operating costs and pass those savings on to our customers so that they can save money,” said Tony Airoso, senior vice president of sourcing strategy for Walmart U.S. “This facility is an example of how we are always finding efficiencies within the supply chain to deliver everyday low prices and high-quality groceries.”
The news comes on the heels of Indiana’s 2015 dairy strategy, commissioned by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), to grow the state’s industry by increasing the dairy processing volume and creating market opportunities for expanded dairy production. With more than 1,200 dairies, Indiana produced more than 4 billion lb. of milk last year – and 348 million lb. in December alone – but it exports approximately 4 million lb. every day.
“This is tremendous news for Indiana and not only affirms that our dairy strategy is working but also that our business climate and geographic location are conducive to economic development in the agriculture industry,” said Ted McKinney, director of ISDA. “I applaud Walmart’s decision and commitment to support Indiana’s dairy farmers and for growing this robust, vital industry in our state.”