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Yogurt Empire

A few weeks ago, we had some fun in this space with NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s dynamic intervention into a dispute that was holding up the expansion of an Albany-area yogurt plant.

Loyal readers of BF Blog will recall that Gov. Cuomo settled a minor kerfuffle between Johnstown and Gloversville without leaving his easy chair. Angered by a TV report that an argument over a sewer line was preventing Greek-style yogurt maker Fage from doubling its production capacity, Cuomo ordered the local cops to round up the mayors of both towns and bring them to the phone.

After a brief lecture from New York’s governor, the $120-million expansion of Fage’s Johnstown plant was back on track. We speculated that Andrew’s intervention was prompted by a refrigerator well-stocked with Fage by the governor’s three yogurt-loving daughters.

Well, we don’t know if they’re making crow-flavored yogurt anywhere, but we’re about to eat some: it turns out that yogurt-making is a spectacularly successful growth sector in the Empire State.

It amazed us recently to learn that New York already is home to 29 yogurt plants, which together employ more than 2,000 people. The plants produced 530 million pounds of yogurt last year, a 43 percent increase over the year before. We know this because Gov. Cuomo just told everyone that plant no. 30 already is on the way:

Cuomo announced last week that PepsiCo and German dairy company Theo Müller have agreed to open a yogurt factory in the western part of the state, adding 186 jobs to an industry that is lifting the economies of several upstate communities. PepsiCo and Theo Müller will invest $206 million in the new plant — their first yogurt plant — to be constructed over two years in Batavia, NY, midway between Buffalo and Rochester. The state and Genesee County have agreed to provide $26 million in tax credits.

The governor hailed the announcement as another victory for the state’s dairy industry. “This project demonstrates that leading international companies like PepsiCo and Müller see New York as a premier place to invest and the natural choice for their first venture into the yogurt business,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“There is tremendous opportunity for new products to enter the U.S. dairy market,” PepsiCo spokesman Jeff Dahncke said. “We also greatly appreciate the support from the local and state officials from New York who helped make this project possible.”

Greek-style yogurt in particular seems to have found a welcoming new home in the Empire State. Along with Mohawk Valley’s Fage, another popular Greek yogurt — Chobani — is based in Chenango County.

In fact, yogurt-making now is such a prominent fixture in New York that Gov. Cuomo offered 46 cases of Greek-style yogurt as his side of a Super Bowl bet with MA Gov. Deval Patrick. Although the Giants turned the Patriots into a similarly creamy mush, the two governors exchanged foodstuffs anyway (Andrew got some clam chowder). We assume Gov. Patrick is now crying in his yogurt.

All hail the Yogurt Empire of New York!

 

 

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