Leprino Foods ramps up construction of mega dairy in Greeley, Colorado
Family-owned Leprino - the largest US exporter of whey products, but also a significant producer of mozzarella cheese (the source of its whey), cheese blends, and pizza cheese - is pumping more than $250m into the 883,000 sq ft state-of-the-art dairy in Greeley, Colorado.
The firm is recruiting 100 staff for the initial phase, but expects to employ 400 more when it is fully operational, communications director Ted Wietecha told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
“Construction began last spring and phase one is on track to be completed in late 2011. Phase two is scheduled for completion in late 2012 and phase three’s completion date has yet to be determined.
“Phase one will make non-fat dry milk for use in our other plants, while phases two and three will ramp up the production of our various cheese, whey and dairy ingredient products.”
He would not discuss specific production equipment or technology to be deployed in the new facility but claimed the firm had invested significantly in cutting edge kit for the plant.
He added: “No one has invested more in dairy manufacturing facilities than Leprino Foods over the past 10 years. Leprino Foods has some of the largest, most modern and technologically advanced plants in the world.
“We hold over 50 production and manufacturing patents and constantly strive to deliver advanced technology solutions for our customers.”
Leprino had the confidence to make such a significant investment because it was seeing strong demand across all areas of its business, said Wietecha.
“Leprino Foods is a growing company and in order to meet demand and sustain our growth we need to expand our operations. We see the opportunity for growth in every area of the business.”
When fully operational, the Greeley facility will be one of Leprino Foods’ largest plants, handling 7m pounds of milk a day and will produce dairy ingredients, mozzarella, reduced-fat Monterey jack, provolone, reduced-fat cheddar and various cheese blends, he added.
Consistent milk supply
As for securing sufficient supplies of milk to meet the new site’s needs, Leprino Foods was working with dairy marketing co-op Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) to ensure consistent supplies, he said. “Once fully operational, we will require nearly double the number of dairy cattle in the area to supply the milk needed for the facility.”
The Denver-based firm, which has plants in California, New Mexico, Colorado, New Mexico, New York and Michigan, also operates sites in Northern Ireland and Wales via a joint venture with Glanbia.
Its US dairies make a wide range of cheese and dairy ingredients including calcium; whey protein concentrates for nutritional beverages, food bars, supplements, and infant foods; gelling proteins to replace egg whites and starches; dairy flavors; and lactose for infant formula, confectionery and seasoning blends.
Leprino began life just after the Second World War and has since taken a significant share of the US Italian cheese market, supplying major food manufacturers, foodservice operators and private label cheese packers.