Dairy Foods has opened the voting to help determine the 2015 Plant of the Year. We nominated 11 dairy processing plants that manufacture fluid milk, ice cream, cheese, Italian ice and cultured dairy products. All have been featured in the magazine and on dairyfoods.com over the previous 18 months. Click to proceed to the voting page.

The nominees are:

Kemps, Rochester, Minn.

The division of Dairy Farmers of America makes ice cream, novelties, frozen yogurt, milkshakes and other frozen desserts around the clock at this plant in Minnesota.

Central Valley Cheese, Turlock, Calif.

This California cheesemaker produces a variety of cheese and cultured dairy products for ethnic and mainstream palate. Cheeses include feta, braided white cheese, queso fresco and grilling cheeses.

Agropur’s Natral Division USA, St. Paul, Minn.

Investments in ultra-high temperature processing equipment help this Agropur division meet the growing demand for extended-shelf-life products. The dairy also bottles fresh milk and nondairy beverages.

You can review each dairy plant article here.

The Ice Cream Club, Boynton Beach, Fla.

As ice cream flows into 3-gallon tubs, employees throw in handfuls of inclusions, ladle and stir sauces by hand, put a lid on the container, weigh it and shove it on a conveyor to the freezing in about 10 seconds. The small-batch ice cream maker has found a niche in scoop shops.

Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif.

The award-winning cheesemaker also is an award-winning sustainable business, receiving honors from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Investments in equipment have boosted productivity. The company is using speed, eco-friendly practices and quality to compete with the giant cheesemakers and the small artisan operations on the West Coast.

Velvet Ice Cream, Utica, Ohio

The fourth generation now heads this family-owned business, known for its premium ice cream and flavor combinations. It invites the public to watch production and then sample ice cream at its on-site restaurant and visitor center.

Anderson Erickson Dairy, Des Moines, Iowa

Milk, cream, yogurt and sour cream are some of the products produced in this sprawling plant on the east end of town. Every Thursday, a team tastes every item produced that week. This emphasis on maintaining high standards is part of the dairy’s customer-first philosophy.

You can review each dairy plant article here.

Bel Brands USA, Brookings, S.D.

Demand was so great for its Mini Babybel cheeses, that the company built a brand new plant from the ground up. At this state-of-the-art facility, milk arrives at one end and exits as cheese 382 yards later. At full capacity, it will use 500,000 pounds of milk every day.

Kroger Mountain View Foods, Denver

Kroger executives toured Europe to see the newest equipment and to find the best practices in fluid milk processing. Then it built a new facility in Denver. Milk handling procedures and equipment like a bacterial clarifier assure that the milk stays clean and fresh for as long as possible.

SR Rostai, Clifton Heights, Pa.

By analyzing how it was making flavored Italian ice, the company boosted production by 37% by not over-freezing the product. Managers implemented many other changes, like warehouse practices and focusing on customer needs. The result is happier customers and happier employees.

Franklin Foods, Casa Grande, Ariz.

This maker of branded and private-label cream cheese bought a building in Arizona and installed processing and packaging equipment in 2013. In less than two years it is making more product than its other plant in Vermont. Sustainable practices include re-using whey for protein and for cattle feed.

You can review each dairy plant article here.

Your vote will help determine the winning plant. The Plant of the Year winner will be announced in early July and featured in the August issue. Vote here. Voting ends July 6.