California Dairies Celebrates Plant Purchase

Leaders of California Dairies, Inc., are shown in front of the milk powder plant the cooperative acquired recently. -DairyBusiness photo

A ribbon-cutting highlighted a brief ceremony on June 18 as California Dairies, Inc., celebrated the purchase of a state-of-the-art milk powder plant in Turlock that had been built by Hilmar Cheese four years ago.  The state’s largest dairy cooperative by milk volume with 400 farmer-members, California Dairies is the largest producer of dried milk powder in the world, according to CEO Andrei Mikhalevsky.  The product from this plant, now called Turlock North, is slated for the export market.

According to officials, the plant has the capacity to process over 60 tanker loads of milk daily. It is operating seven days a week with two shifts.  All the Hilmar employees were offered the opportunity to continue employment at the plant under the new ownership which was effective May 21.

The cooperative also produces butter and so, according to Mikhalevsky, can profitably use the cream taken from milk in the powder making process.

Board chairman Simon Vander Woude, dairyman from Merced, Calif., welcomed the member dairymen, board members, employees and local officials in attendance.

Simon Vander Woude, center, cuts the ceremonial ribbon on June 18 at the newly acquired milk powder plant in Turlock. A Merced dairyman, he is the board chair at California Dairies, Inc., that acquired the former Hilmar Cheese powder plant. At left is CEO Andrei Mikhalevsky. DairyBusiness photo

To hear more comments about the state of the dairy industry in California, export markets and milk pricing from Mr. Mikhalevsky, you can view his video interview with Joel Hastings below.

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