Farmer-owned cooperative honors Leprino Foods Company with Valued Partner award

Leprino Foods to donate 4,300 pounds of Michigan-made cheese to food banks in conjunction with award

Underscoring the value of industry collaboration, the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) today honored customer Leprino Foods with a Valued Partner award. The award was presented at the dairy farmer-owned cooperative’s annual meeting, which carried a theme of “Focus on Cooperation.”

During the award presentation, Leprino Foods announced a donation of 4,300 pounds of mozzarella string cheese to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The donation is an effort to support the one out of every seven Michigan residents struggling with hunger.

MMPA and Leprino Foods began an agreement over 30 years ago that has enabled the success of two Leprino cheese plants in the state of Michigan. The plants in Allendale and Remus process a combined 3.5 million pounds of milk per day and support over 400 jobs.

“Through vision, MMPA and Leprino have remained steadfast ‘Partners in Progress’ through the years,” said President Ken Nobis, who presented the award with General Manager Joe Diglio on behalf of the cooperative.

The initial partnership, innovative for its time, brought Colorado-based Leprino Foods to Michigan in the late 1980s. Leprino is now the largest manufacturer of mozzarella cheese and supplies many of the world’s leading pizza companies.

Per capita consumption of mozzarella cheese has more than doubled in America in the past 30 years. Thanks to the growing dominance of pizza, Americans now eat almost 12 pounds of cheese per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Leprino Food’s donated mozzarella cheese—produced locally in Remus, Michigan—will reach food banks in all 83 counties of Michigan after being distributed by the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

“Our business success is based on one key ingredient – milk. Michigan’s healthy milk shed and its dedicated dairy farmers make it an excellent location for us to produce the highest quality cheese and dairy ingredients for our customers and consumers throughout the world,” Leprino Foods Company President Mike Durkin said. “Our relationship with MMPA, and its dairy farmer members, has spanned three decades and we look forward to our continued partnership. We are honored to be acknowledged with this Valued Partner Award.”

“We are grateful for our mutually-beneficial relationship with Leprino Foods. Together, our quality milk and Leprino’s innovative technology creates value for the industry and MMPA dairy farmers. Our work with Leprino showcases the lasting power of collaboration,” Diglio added.

The announcements were made at MMPA’s 102nd Annual Meeting in Lansing, Michigan. Approximately 400 dairy farmer members and guests gathered at the meeting today to discuss the current dairy industry, recognize members, adopt policy resolutions and elect board members.