Seattle-based Darigold, the marketing and processing subsidiary of the Northwest Dairy Association, announced the completion of its new milk powder dryer at its Lynden, Wash., processing plant. A fire destroyed the dryer in February 2012.

“We will now begin the process of initial start-up runs through the new dryer," said President & CEO Jim Wegner. Darigold will fine-tune the equipment and complete employee training, he said.

Darigold exports two-thirds of its milk powder production and three-quarters of its whey products. In 2012, Darigold exported 800 million pounds of bulk dairy products or 8,200 20-foot equivalent containers. Its milk powders are used in a wide variety of products from infant formulas to baked goods and nutritional products to confectionery items.

The new dryer, referred to as the Relco tall form bustle dryer, measures 22 feet in diameter and is 108 feet tall, and is enclosed by concrete walls and insulated metal panels that measure up to 130 feet. The new dryer will be able to produce 16,800 pounds of powder per hour, approximately 6% more powder annually than the dryer it replaced. There is a second dryer at the plant which was installed in 1977 and is known as the Rogers tall form spray dryer.

The new dryer will be able to produce condensed milk powders, such as Non-fat Dry Milk Powder and Skim Milk Powder and Whole Milk Powder for domestic and export markets.

The main powder plant and warehouse block total 104,226 square feet. It can process:

  • 4 million pounds of raw milk (received and separated) daily
  • 310,000 pounds of cream daily
  • 3.69 million pounds of skim milk (pasteurized and evaporated) daily
  • 692,000 pounds of condensed milk (48% solids) dried daily
  • 346,000 pounds of NFDM daily (10 million pounds monthly)
  • 9 million pounds of cream monthly

The plant employs 65 hourly employees (members of Union Local 231) and 12 salaried employees. The plant manager is Ethan Buckmier and the assistant plant manager is Richard Forslof.
The Northwest Dairy Association is owned by approximately 525 dairy producers throughout the Northwest. Darigold operates 12 processing plants throughout the Northwest. Additional dryers are in Idaho (Caldwell and Jerome) and Washington (Chehalis and Sunnyside). Darigold ranks 16th on the Dairy 100, Dairy Foods annual ranking of North America's largest dairy processors.