Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Select Milk Producers said they have, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, selected the city of St. Johns, Mich., as the preferred location for their earlier-announced joint-venture large-scale cheese and whey production facility. The facility is now expected to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020 at a cost of $470 million. 

The new facility will process 8 million pounds of milk per day into a range of cheese (300 million pounds per year) and whey products for U.S. and international markets, employing approximately 250 staff when in full production, the companies said.

In addition, the partners confirmed that an agreement was reached with Proliant Dairy Ingredients, Ankeny, Iowa, to process the whey permeate. Proliant will invest $85 million in an adjoining facility, creating up to 38 jobs.

“The construction of this plant in St. Johns will not only address a growing industry need for Michigan plant capacity, but it also adds value and supports our local dairy farm families in this area,” said Greg Wickham, chief financial officer for Kansas City, Kan.-based DFA.

The preferred site in St. Johns meets key selection criteria in terms of strategic location relative to milk supply, strong transport links, a positive business environment and labor availability. The partners said they have engaged with state and city officials, as well as community leaders, to address issues such as cost, infrastructure and planning to finalize the decision. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved a package of incentives that address these areas.

“The finalization of the preferred location is a critical step on our journey to deliver a new ultra-modern dairy facility in Michigan,” said Brian Phelan, CEO of Glanbia Nutritionals, part of Kilkenny, Ireland-based Glanbia plc. “We want to thank the state and city authorities for their continued support as we move to commence construction as soon as possible.”