A manufacturing facility in Brookings, S.D., that makes Mini Babybel cheeses is the 2016 Dairy Foods Plant of the Year. Bel Brands USA began construction in July 2012 and held a ribbon-cutting in October 2014 to mark the official opening of the plant.

Dairy Foods had nominated 12 food manufacturing facilities that make fluid milk, ice cream, frozen ices, cheese and cultured dairy foods. It invited visitors to vote at dairyfoods.com to help select the Plant of the Year. In all, more than 3,500 votes were cast over a five-week period.

The Brookings plant uses state-of-the-art and proprietary manufacturing processes developed in Bel’s Evron, France facility. The South Dakota facility measures 350 meters long (382 yards, or about the length of four football fields).

When running at full capacity, Bel Brands expects to use about 500,000 pounds of milk every day. Local members of the Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes cooperatives deliver milk throughout the day. The plant has two receiving bays and a third bay where it ships out condensed whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking.

Dairy Foods visited the plant in December 2014 and published a report in March 2015. See "Bel Brands invests $144 million in a plant to make Mini Babybel cheeses in South Dakota."

The plant will also be featured in the August 2016 print and digital editions of Dairy Foods.