Ornua, Ireland’s largest premium dairy cooperative, announced a major expansion of its Ornua Ingredients North America division, with a $10 million investment upgrading its Hilbert, Wis., cheese ingredients operation.

The facility, located in the heart of Wisconsin’s famous dairy country, already boasts some of the most advanced dairy processing equipment in the US dairy sector and includes a state-of-the-art innovation center that provides functional cheese solutions to Ornua’s U.S. food ingredient and foodservice customers, Ornua said.

Ornua Ingredients North America operates two cheesemaking facilities: the Hilbert plant and another in Byron, Minn. Ornua Ingredients North America specializes in producing customized functional cheese products for major U.S. food manufacturing and foodservice customers. The division provides functional cheese solutions for applications in the meat, frozen meals, egg dishes, soups and sauces, bakery and pizza cheese categories.

Last year, the business supplied cheese for more than 50 million pizzas, Ornua said. This latest investment is a result of a period of exceptional multi-year growth in the division, with 2019 reporting a record year with double-digit growth.

The expansion plans for Hilbert will add 22,000 square feet of warehousing and cooling infrastructure to the operation, unlocking an additional 30% growth in production capacity, the company said. Construction of the site’s new infrastructure is being carried out by Wisconsin building firm Bayland Construction and is expected to be completed in February 2021.

Commenting on the investment, Rick Pedersen, president, Ornua Ingredients North America, said: “Ornua Ingredients’ core ethos revolves around creating and maintaining long-term partnerships with our customers through innovation, best-in-class technical expertise and a true spirit of collaboration that delivers functional cheeses that meet the demands of brands and consumers. The capacity and flexibility enabled by this latest investment will allow us to deliver the scale and breadth of product portfolio required to maintain our position as the leading partner in our customers’ ambitious growth plans.”