Dairy Foods is asking the dairy industry to help it select the 2016 Plant of the Year. We have nominated 12 dairy processing plants that manufacture fluid milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheese and other dairy and nondairy products.
All have been featured in Dairy Foods magazine and on dairyfoods.com over the previous 18 months. Voting ends July 6. The winner will be named later in July and featured in the August issue of Dairy Foods.
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.
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.
SR Rosati, 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.
Nuestro Queso, Kent, Ill.
Nuestro Queso is a six-year-old business that makes award-winning Hispanic cheeses, drinkable yogurts and cultured creams under its own brand and for private label customers. A quality-first culture, with an emphasis on food safety and good manufacturing practices, has paid off in a SQF Level 2 certification. Stainless steel equipment meets 3-A standards.
Mayfield Dairy Farms, Athens, Tenn.
This dairy processes milk and other Grade A products, as well as ice cream. Both sides of the plant have earned Level 3 certification in the Safe Quality Foods initiative. Mayfield Dairy Farms is one of the operating units of Dean Foods Co. It serves nine Southeastern states.
Snowville Creamery, Pomeroy, Ohio
Founder Warren Taylor has designed milk plants for some of the largest processors in the United States. When it came time to build his own facility, he distilled his best ideas and installed them in just 6,000 square feet. Taylor said he takes a holistic approach to design. The creamery uses modular buildings and second-hand equipment. It makes milk, yogurt and crème fraiche.
Ramar Foods, Pittsburg, Calif.
Solar panels cover the roof of the 17,000-square-foot ice cream manufacturing facility. The Quesada family manufactures ice cream and novelties under the Magnolia brand. Originally, the company focused on ethnic grocery stores. Now emphasizing tropical flavors, Ramar Foods has positioned Magnolia as an ice cream brand for a broader, mainstream clientele.
Cabot Creamery, Cabot, Vt.
The dairy cooperative Agri-Mark has invested in new equipment and sustainable manufacturing practices in this Vermont cheesemaking plant. It processes 1 million pounds of milk daily into Cheddar cheeses. An on-site cut-and-wrap facility converts 40- to 700-pound blocks of cheese into smaller, retail-ready formats.
Humboldt Creamery, Fortuna, Calif.
This SQF Level 3 certified dairy plant almost does it all. It processes fluid milk, ice cream and dairy powders from conventional and organic milk. Owner Crystal Creamery has invested in new processing and packaging equipment since buying the facility in 2009. Energy upgrades include LED lighting and variable frequency drives on motors.
The Comfy Cow, Louisville, Ky.
When Whole Foods told this scoop-shop operation that it wanted to carry its pints, the owners realized they had to up their game to meet production demands. They built an ice cream production facility and bought continuous freezers to supplement their batch freezers. Still, the ice cream is predominantly handmade. Baked inclusions and sauces, made on-site, are added by hand to the mix.
Noosa Yoghurt, Bellvue, Colo.
Dairy farmer Rob Graves also bottles milk. Then he and Koel Thomae co-founded noose yoghurt. They have continually invested in new processing and packaging equipment as demand from retailers for the whole-milk yogurt has grown. The noosa brand is known for its creamy texture and unique fruit flavor combinations.