The Kroger Co.’s Mountain View Foods plant in Denver is the 2015 Plant of the Year. The dairy was one of 11 facilities nominated by Dairy Foods. More than 5,100 votes were cast on during the six-week voting period which ended July 6.

Dairy Foods will present the award at the International Dairy Show, Sept. 15 to 18 in Chicago. The show is organized by the International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, D.C. Kroger executives will present a seminar about the dairy processing facility on Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to noon. The Plant of the Year trophy will be given out on Sept. 18 at noon during IDFA’s awards ceremony.

The Cincinnati, Ohio-based grocery chain opened the Mountain View Foods plant on Memorial Day weekend 2014. The facility processes fresh conventional and organic milk in half-gallons and gallons and it packages aseptically processed milk, creams and juices in quarts and smaller bottles.

A Kroger executive says the plant will help the company develop innovative dairy products

In an interview with Dairy Foods, Erin S. Sharp, Kroger’s group vice president for manufacturing, said the new plant will help the company develop new products, calling dairy an “under-innovated” category. She added, “We think there’s a lot of future for dairy innovation.”

The plant currently supplies milk to about 150 King Soopers and City Market stores (a chain owned by Kroger). At full capacity, Mountain View Foods will service a few thousand groceries and convenience stores in the Kroger network in Colorado and nearby states. Eventually, the plant will supply all of Kroger’s 2,640 grocery stores and about 75% of the company’s convenience stores with aseptically processed milk and juices.

To get to opening day, May 25, 2014, was an eight-year journey. How the Kroger team approached the design of the plant and the equipment selection process are discussed in “Kroger's best practices keep the milk fresh longer.”