The site - six miles away from its HQ and monster cheese plant in Hilmar, CA - will produce a variety of milk powders, an important source of dairy for developing nations, Gwen Bargetzi, marketing director at the firm's Hilmar Ingredients division, told FoodNavigator-USA.
"The demand for milk powders is coming from the rising middle class in economies all around the world.
"As people gain more spending power, one of the first changes they make is to their diet. Dairy products are high on the list of those products most desired both for their good taste and health. Milk powder is one of the more easily gained dairy products – it’s convenient, doesn’t require refrigeration and is easy to reconstitute."
While this is Hilmar Ingredients' first foray into milk powders, it has a "long history of working with food and beverage manufacturers globally to use whey proteins – another useful source of dairy nutrition, to create healthful products", she said.
"So we have the contacts, market awareness and applications knowledge to support our newest ingredient – milk powder."
Multi-million dollar investment
Between $75m and $100m is expected to be pumped into the Turlock site over the next few years, she said, with construction and commissioning projected to take 18 months. Once it is fully operational, it will create 40 new full time jobs.
Designed with water conservation in mind, the site will capture the water in milk for reuse to conserve ground water. Water will be recycled, reused and passed through a preliminary treatment before going to the Turlock Regional Water Quality Control facility.
Tom Ielmini, vice president of the firm’s Hilmar Ingredients division, added:“We now have customers in 50 countries and are always striving to meet their needs. This is part of a broader plan to be a larger, more dynamic global supplier.”
Cheese, whey proteins and lactose
Privately-held Hilmar - which was founded in 1984 by 12 California dairy families and now employs more than 1,200 staff - claims to produce more cheese per year from a single site in Hilmar, California, than any other cheese manufacturer in the world. It also has a second cheese plant in Dalhart, Texas.
In 2004, it created the Hilmar Ingredients division, which supplies lactose (milk sugar), and whey protein concentrates, hydrolysates and isolates from sweet whey sourced from Hilmar’s two cheese plants.
The Hilmar CA plant makes cheese, whey proteins and lactose; while the Dalhart TX plant - which opened in 2007 and is currently undergoing a major expansion - makes cheese and whey proteins.