Michigan Lands $470M Cheese And Whey Facility

In a joint venture, Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers Inc. will build a new large-scale cheese and whey production facility in St. Johns, MI.

Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Select Milk Producers Inc. (Select) have selected the City of St. Johns, MI as the preferred location for a new joint venture large-scale cheese and whey production facility for the state of Michigan. The project is expected to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020 at a cost of $470 million.

St. Johns
(Photo: Glanbia Nutritionals)

“The construction of this plant in St. Johns will not only address a growing industry need for Michigan plant capacity, but it also adds value and supports our local dairy farm families in this area,” said Greg Wickham, chief financial officer at DFA.

The new facility will process 8 million pounds of milk per day into a range of cheese (300 million pounds per year ) and whey products for U.S. and international markets, employing approximately 250 staff when in full production. In addition, the partners have formed an agreement with Proliant Dairy Ingredients to process the whey permeate. Proliant will invest $85 million in an adjoining facility, creating up to 38 jobs.

“Once again, Michigan’s national reputation as the best place to grow jobs is bringing new investments to our thriving agriculture sector,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “Michigan’s dairy industry is an essential economic driver in our state, and this new investment elevates and expands our potential to rise even higher while bringing new jobs and opportunities to this region.

The St. Johns site meets key selection criteria in terms of strategic location relative to milk supply, strong transport links, a positive business environment and labor availability. The partners are working with state and city officials as well as community leaders to address issues such as cost, infrastructure and planning in order to finalize the decision. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has approved a package of incentives, including an estimated $27.6 million in grants and tax abatements from Michigan Strategic Fund, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Michigan Department of Transportation.

“This project is vital to the success of the Michigan dairy sector,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC. “Michigan’s dairy producers—already among the most efficient in the world—will now be even more competitive and prepared for the market challenges ahead.”

 “The finalization of the preferred location is a critical step on our journey to deliver a new ultra-modern dairy facility in Michigan,” said Brian Phelan, Chief Executive Officer of Glanbia Nutritionals. “We want to thank the state and city authorities for their continued support as we move to commence construction as soon as possible.”

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