Walmart stated that the average starting wage for positions at the new facility, which is expected to be operational by summer 2017, will be more than $19 an hour.
With construction anticipated to begin this summer, Walmart will build a more than 250,000-square-foot milk processing plant, which is expected to be one of the largest in the industry.
Supplies to 600 regional stores
The plant will utilize the latest technologies to produce Great Value and Member’s Mark white and chocolate milk for more than 600 Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and northern Kentucky.
“By operating our own plant and working directly with the dairy supply chain in the Midwest, we’ll further reduce operating costs and pass those savings on to our customers so that they can save money,” said Tony Airoso, senior vice president of sourcing strategy for Walmart U.S.
Walmart said that operating its own plant will speed milk delivery to stores and extend shelf life.
New ISDA strategy
The announcement comes shortly after the outlining of Indiana’s 2015 dairy strategy, commissioned by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), to grow the state’s industry by increasing the volume of dairy processing and creating market opportunities for expanded dairy production.
“This is tremendous news for Indiana and not only affirms our dairy strategy is working, but also that our business climate and geographic location is conducive to economic development in the agriculture industry,” said Ted McKinney, director of the ISDA.
With more than 1,200 dairies across the state, Indiana produced more than 4bn pounds of milk last year.
On average, Indiana has roughly 184,000 milk cows which can produce 61 pounds of milk per day, accounting for nearly 2% of total US milk production.
Walmart employs more than 38,000 associates across Indiana and operates ten distribution centers in the state. In fiscal year 2015, Walmart spent $1.7bn with Indiana suppliers.