Help us select the 2017 Plant of the Year! We have nominated these 14 dairy processing plants, which have been featured in Dairy Foods and on dairyfoods.com over the previous 18 months. Voting ends July 9.
Snowville Creamery, Pomeroy, Ohio
Founder Warren Taylor has designed milk plants for some of the largest processors in the United States. When it came time to build his own facility, he distilled his best ideas and installed them in just 6,000 square feet. The creamery uses modular buildings and second-hand equipment. It makes milk, yogurt and crème fraiche.
Solar panels cover the roof of the 17,000-square-foot ice cream manufacturing facility. The Quesada family manufactures ice cream and novelties under the Magnolia brand. Now emphasizing tropical flavors, Ramar Foods has positioned Magnolia as an ice cream brand for a broader, mainstream clientele.
The dairy cooperative Agri-Mark has invested in new equipment and sustainable manufacturing practices in this Vermont cheesemaking plant. It processes 1 million pounds of milk daily into Cheddar cheeses. An on-site cut-and-wrap facility converts 40- to 700-pound blocks of cheese into smaller, retail-ready formats.
This SQF Level 3 certified dairy plant almost does it all. It processes fluid milk, ice cream and dairy powders from conventional and organic milk. Owner Crystal Creamery has invested in new processing and packaging equipment since buying the facility in 2009. Energy upgrades include LED lighting and variable frequency drives on motors.
When Whole Foods told this scoop-shop operation that it wanted to carry its pints, the owners realized they had to up their game to meet production demands. They built an ice cream production facility and bought continuous freezers to supplement their batch freezers. Still, the ice cream is predominantly handmade. Baked inclusions and sauces, made on-site, are added by hand to the mix.
Dairy farmer Rob Graves also bottles milk. Then he and Koel Thomae co-founded noosa yoghurt. They have continually invested in new processing and packaging equipment as demand from retailers for the whole-milk yogurt has grown.
Litehouse makes award-winning blue cheese and buttermilk at separate plants in Sandpoint, Idaho, then combines them at a third to make its best-selling refrigerated salad dressings. Its innovations include blue cheese in a shakable container.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream makes dairy-based and vegan ice creams for its scoop shops, food trucks and retail customers in a 5,000-square-foot plant. The processor says that when it comes to artisan ice cream making, flavors, transparency and authenticity are what matter.
A dairy farmer in rural Maryland sought to meet consumers’ demands for local, fresh and minimally processed foods. Phyllis Kilby, with her daughter Megan Coleman, built a farmstead dairy processing plant to bottle milk and make ice cream.
This cheese plant in Wisconsin is said to be the largest producer of Havarti in the United States. It also turns out Gouda, Edam, Fontina and Muenster. The 225 plant employees can make 32 million pounds of a cheese a year.
In a nondescript one-floor brick building, JonnyPops manufactures dairy-based stick novelties in seven flavors sold throughout the Midwest. The young co-founders, who won a state prize for their entrepreneurial skills, have added a second production line to help them meet their goal of national distribution.
Chobani opened a brand-new yogurt facility in 2013 with expansion in mind. In 2016, the Greek yogurt processor invested $450 million to complete a 300,000- square- foot expansion. The million-square-foot plant is said to be the largest yogurt manufacturing facility in the world.