Congratulations to the management and employees of the Bel Brands USA cheese plant in Brookings, S.D. The facility has been selected as Dairy Foods’ Plant of the Year for 2016.

It was one of 12 food processing facilities nominated for the award. Dairy Foods invited the dairy industry to vote and help select the recipient. During a five-week period ending July 6, more than 3,500 votes were cast.

The associates in the Bel Brands plant turn roughly 19 million pounds of cheese into millions of Mini Babybel portions annually. These snacking cheeses are so popular in the United States, that the Paris-based parent company decided to build a factory to satisfy American demand.

Dairy Foods visited Brookings in 2014 and published the article “Clear as a Bel” in the March 2015 issue. 

We take a team approach to quality

The 285 employees at the Dairy Foods 2016 Plant of the Year in South Dakota strive to work efficiently and safely as they manufacture a high-quality cheese.

By Cyril Cledelin, Plant Manager

Bel Brands USA, Brookings, S.D., is proud to accept the 2016 Dairy Foods Plant of the Year award. The facility is the newest Mini Babybel plant for the Bel Group Co., dedicated exclusively to meeting the growing demand for Mini Babybel cheeses.

Our commitment to quality, nutrition and pleasure is reflected in the way we design and produce our cheeses. We take pride in applying our cheese production expertise in order to delight consumers through our brands.

 Evidence of our commitment to quality is the fact that the Brookings plant is FSSC 22000-certified and has Gold Status with Silliker. We are also kosher- and halal-certified for whey and cream products, Grade A-certified with the State of South Dakota and USDA AMS-certified.

Our products and processes are conceived and developed according to sustainability principles. BOOST (our lean manufacturing program) is empowerment for efficiency. At Bel Brands we accomplish this by utilizing the expertise of our people to work diligently to remove the waste in our processes, thus improving safety, quality and lead times. We know that our consumers expect our products to be high-quality, convenient and accessible.

The Brookings plant is a 170,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility located in the heart of a thriving dairy industry. We use about 500,000 pounds of milk daily which is purchased from two dairy co-ops within the region. We have the capacity to produce more than 20 million pounds of cheese annually. Our 285 team members produce our original, light, mozzarella, gouda and white cheddar varieties.   

Brookings in Brief

  • 2012. Ground breaking, June 28
  • 2013. Construction begins on the $148 million plant
  • 2014. July 8, first production. By December, production reaches 2,000 tons
  • 2015. Production hits 8,805 tons (or 19,411,703 pounds)
  • 2016. Production goal of 10,500T (21 million pounds)

In the community

When Bel decided to invest in Brookings by building the Mini Babybel plant, the cheesemaker also was committed to investing in the community as a partner.

The plant has supported and been actively involved with the following organizations in the Brookings/Greater Brookings community:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Brookings
  • Harvest Table
  • Feeding Brookings
  • Brookings Food Pantry (cheese donations)