New state-of-the-art cheese and whey plant MWC begins production in Michigan

Glanbia plc

MWC, a $470 million state-of-the-art cheese and whey plant in St. Johns, Michigan, began receiving milk today from local farmers, marking the first day of operations for the facility and beginning the commissioning phase.

Commissioning operations at MWC will take place over the next eight months and will see the initial one million lbs. of milk per day increase to its designed capacity of eight million lbs. per day.

When fully operational, this 375,000 square foot facility built on a 120 acre lot will employ 260 local people and will process over 2.9 billion pounds of milk from local farmers into more than 300 million pounds of superior quality block cheese and 20 million pounds of value-added whey protein powders each year.

A joint venture between Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA), and Select Milk Producers Inc., MWC is one of the most technically advanced dairy processing facilities in the U.S., designed and built over a two year period to meet exacting food manufacturing standards.

In determining the site for the new facility, St. Johns was selected due to the growing supply of high quality milk in the region, the excellent transportation infrastructure in the region, proximity to customers, and the positive business environment and strong local workforce reputation in the region.

Commenting, Brian Phelan, CEO of Glanbia Nutritionals said: “We are very pleased to reach this important milestone on our journey to deliver a new ultramodern dairy facility in Michigan for our customers. As we enter this key commissioning phase and begin production at the plant, I would like to thank the entire Glanbia Nutritionals team, and in particular the onsite team, whose expertise and focus have kept the project on track and on budget particularly during the challenges of the last seven months. In addition, I would like to thank the State and City authorities for their continued support and of course our great partners, DFA & Select Milk Producers.”

Dennis Rodenbaugh, Executive Vice President and President of Council Operations and Ingredients at Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) added: “We are excited about this important milestone in the operation, which not only will play a critical role in the dairy industry in Michigan, but will bring value to our family farmer-owners here and across the country.”

Rance Miles, CEO of Select Milk Producers concluded: “This partnership began two decades ago with the creation of the Southwest Cheese JV by bringing dairy farmers, processors and local communities together to achieve beneficial results for all. This new facility in Michigan under the same JV partnership is a continuation of that success.”

As a business-to-business company (B2B), MWC does not produce cheese or whey proteins for direct sales to consumers.

The types of cheese made at MWC for B2B customers will include Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Colby Jack in 40 lb. and 640 lb. blocks. All cheese will be shipped to a number of national brands and international food companies for packaging and resale.

In making cheese, the liquid that remains is called whey, which consists of protein, lactose and water. MWC will process that whey into whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, two highly valued dairy protein powders used by sports nutrition companies, food and beverage manufacturers to improve the nutrition and functionality in a variety of products including protein bars, sports nutrition products, and fortified beverages.

In addition to the manufacture of top quality cheese and whey products, a liquid by-product called permeate will be shipped by pipe across the parking area to the $85 million facility operated by Proliant Dairy Ingredients. Proliant will further process the whey permeate into high quality dairy ingredients for global distribution into food and feed applications. Proliant is expected to begin receiving permeate from MWC within about a week of production commencing at the site.

Glanbia is a global nutrition company, whose purpose is to deliver better nutrition for every step of life’s journey.

Glanbia has deep roots in the dairy industry and has become the world’s leading producer and marketer of quality performance and lifestyle nutrition products supporting active lifestyles. Its success as a global provider of innovative nutritional solutions is supported by significant investment in research and development.

With total group turnover of €4.8 billion in 2019, 7,400 employees and a presence in 34 countries worldwide, Glanbia’s vision is to be one of the world’s top performing nutrition companies, trusted to enrich lives every day.

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