Big cheese in Tulare, Calif., is about to get bigger.

Already one of the largest cheese facilities in the world, the Land O'Lakes Tulare facility is slated for a $40 million expansion that will double cheese and whey output to a whopping 6 million pounds a day.

The plant, which produces mozzarella and whey, is owned by Cheese & Protein International, a joint venture of Land O'Lakes and Mitsui & Co. of Japan.

"We are in the expansion stage right now, and we expect a portion of it to be ready by early summer," said Land O'Lakes spokeswoman Lydia Botham. The company anticipated an expansion when the Tulare dairy plant opened in July 2002. After the expansion, the plant will eventually produce 240 million pounds of cheese each year, Botham said.

The project is not expected to increase the plant's size, but it will add more equipment and employees. The plant has 200 workers, Botham said.

"At this time, we're still determining our plans for how many employees we will need, after the expansion," she said.