Last summer I had an opportunity to visit the facilities of a packaging supplier and an ice cream inclusion manufacturer both located in Texas.

David Phillips, Dairy Foods Editor
Last summer I had an opportunity to visit the facilities of a packaging supplier and an ice cream inclusion manufacturer both located in Texas. It was interesting to see how these businesses are at once different from and similar to dairy processing operations.

The ingredient supplier used plenty of modern equipment to make candy pieces and baked bits. But there was also a set of copper kettle mixers heated by open gas flames used to make pralines. It reminded me of the time a year before when I sampled from a giant batch of fondue prepared in an antique copper pot. I’m a sucker for the low-tech traditional approach. The packaging facility was really a printing operation, and featured a level of automation that would be the envy of any dairy plant manager. I’m also impressed by state-of-the-art technology.

Those who supply the dairy industry are a diverse and colorful mix, making everything from yogurt enrobed nuts, to environmentally-safe sanitation chemicals. They use bar steel to fashion the machines that make dairy products and travel to far reaches of the globe in search of the rarest ingredients. And in most cases they serve a variety of industries in addition to dairy.

In this issue of Dairy Foods we give you a chance to get a better look at who these suppliers are and what they do. The Supplier Capabilities Spotlight issue features capability profiles and the latest product offerings from those suppliers who support your magazine of choice through their advertising. We hope that you will patronize these suppliers and encourage all the suppliers you work with to work with Dairy Foods.

Along with our Buyer’s Guide and Source Book which will come to you in July, our Supplier Capabilities issue should be kept on your desk as a ready reference on who can answer your equipment, ingredient and service needs.

Big News!

There’s been lots of big news in the industry in the past couple of months, and in particular in the milk arena. HP Hood and National Dairy Holdings announced in November (see December’s Newsline) that they are planning a merger that will create a $3 billion company with a more balanced product portfolio and facilities stable than any other industry contender. We have an update on the merger in this month's Newsline.

At the same time that news broke of the Hood-National Dairy Holdings merger, we were the first to bring you the story of Tetra Pak’s success in gaining FDA approval for plastic aseptic milk packaging. And this month we have a packaging piece (see p. 25) on shelf-stable milk in a soda can.

If you’ll pardon a little boasting, the Hood-National Dairy Holdings deal makes us look good. We featured Hood as our Processor of the Year in 2001 and told its story as a super-regional dairy with national ambitions. We’ve also done our best in the past year or so to keep you up to date on National Dairy Holdings—knowing that this is a company with the will and the knowledge needed to grow into a force that lives up to its name.

By the way, I can’t think of a nicer or more qualified group of people to give Dean Foods a run for its money. Dean is doing some wonderful things with all those efficiencies, but having someone in the rearview mirror should keep Gregg Engles and company from getting too comfortable.

There’s a lot going on in the industry, and I like to think we’re doing a fine job of keeping you abreast of it. Keep reading. Next month our feature will focus on milk and other beverages, and we’ll have more stories to tell.