News Wire

Oakland, Calif.-based Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream broke ground in May on an expansion of its current plant in Bakersfield, Calif., that will transform the facility into the nation’s largest ice cream plant. The $100 million, 400,000-square-foot expansion will double the facility’s size, triple its capacity to about 100 million gallons a year and add 250 jobs. The larger facility will add five production lines to produce Dreyer’s Grand and the new Slow Churned Dreyer’s Grand Light ice cream.
Imports of specialized proteins, such as milk protein concentrates (MPC), casein and caseinates, had no effect on farm milk prices, according to a long-awaited report on the 1998-2002 U.S. dairy market by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released May 18. The ITC also concluded that the federal Dairy Price Support Program, which guarantees a market for nonfat dry milk, creates a major disincentive for the domestic production of such proteins.
The restructuring plan of insolvent Parmalat Finanziaria SpA calls for the creation of a new company partly owned by creditors, to retain the Italian processor’s debt and assets. The proposal is part of the company’s turnaround plan released in May by Enrico Bondi, the government-appointed administrator of Parmalat. Stateside, Parmalat USA, Wallington, N.J., is also planning to reorganize, since it is unable to find a suitable buyer for its U.S. plants. Speculation is that antitrust concerns scared off strategic buyers or drove down the price.
Employees represented by Teamsters Local 66 voted this month to finally ratify a new labor agreement with Seattle-based WestFarm Foods. The agreement, which ends nine months of contentious negotiations, represents compromise on both sides: an initial wage reduction of $1 per hour with restoration of 70 cents per hour by the end of the contract; pension increases of 10 cents per hour in each year; agreement surrounding outsourcing that gives the company needed flexibility; withdrawal of unfair labor-practice charges by both parties; and a comprehensive health and welfare benefits plan.
New Ulm, Minn.-based Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) closed its Glencoe, Minn., plant, as the state continues to lose dairy production. In mid-June, milk processed at the Glencoe plant was diverted to the four remaining AMPI plants in Minnesota.
Lake Forest, Ill.-based Wiscon Corp., manufacturer of Caputo brand cheeses, has opened a new 20,000-square-foot cheese-aging facility in Melrose Park, Ill., designed to age and warehouse parmesan, romano, asiago and other Italian-type cheeses. With 2,000 pallet spaces, the facility has the capacity to maintain and care for more than 5 million pounds of cheese.
Dallas-based Dean Foods Co. and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are in settlement talks in an investigation into Dean’s dealings with bankrupt foods distributor Fleming Cos. Dean is one of several U.S. food companies that received notices late last year from the SEC regarding allegations that the company helped Fleming inflate its revenue. Dean says it does not expect the probe or settlement to have an adverse material impact on the company.
In other company news, a Newsday Inc. report says a small distributor of juice drinks popular among Latino consumers has accused Dean of using its dominance in the milk industry to strong-arm its largest New York-area customer into buying juice from Dean. Central Island Juice Co. alleged in court papers that Dean coerced Ideal Dairy Farms Inc., the distributor’s largest customer for Tampico orange drink, to stop buying the brand from Central Island and instead buy it from Dean. The distributor says Dean threatened to cut off Ideal’s supply of milk if it didn’t go along.
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) announced in May that it will close its cheese processing operations in Petaluma, Calif., by mid-July. The plant processes about 1 million pounds of milk per day into 100,000 pounds of cheddar, Monterey and pepper jack. DFA says the plant can’t efficiently compete with other higher-volume cheese plants.
Brewster Dairy Inc., Brewster Ohio, has announced that MDS Foods has purchased its Amish Classics cheese brand along with the exclusive rights to sell Brewster branded deli products, taking over sales, marketing and distribution of all products. The change was effective May 1.