With raw milk prices low and demand for cheese, yogurt and other dairy foods high, America’s dairy processors are opening up their checkbooks to buy new equipment. A survey by BNP Market Research (Dairy Foods’ research arm) found that 56% of dairy processors are buying equipment this year and 60% plan to buy in 2017.
The city of Sandpoint (population 7,500) is in the skinny part of Idaho, wedged between Washington and Montana, and about an hour south of the Canadian border. Sandpoint is the seat of Bonner County which, at 1,920 square miles, is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. When the Dixie Chicks sing of “Wide Open Spaces,” they could be referring to this part of Idaho.
Though some dairies saw sales fall last year, others reported increases. As they looked at the long-term prospects of the industry, businesses opened their checkbooks to acquire companies and to expand their processing capabilities.
Just as Dairy Foods was wrapping up its research into the 100 largest dairy processors in North America, the French dairy giant Danone announced it was buying Colorado-based WhiteWave Foods, a processor of organic dairy and plant-based beverages.