Tillamook expands ice cream manufacturing capacity to manage inflation, better meet consumer demand

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Tillamook County Creamery Association
Image Credit: Tillamook County Creamery Association

Related tags Tillamook Ice cream Dairy Manufacturing

Dairy producer co-op Tillamook County Creamery Association is expanding its manufacturing beyond its Oregonian borders with a new ice cream plant in Decatur, Ill., set to open in October 2024.

Tillamook will update an existing manufacturing site​, previously owned by Prairie Farms, to meet its needs over the next year and a half. The Decatur facility will manufacture Tillamook's 48 oz., family-sized ice cream and three-gallon ice creams for foodservice.

Tillamook sought two key elements from the new facility, Michael Bever, executive VP of operations for Tillamook, told FoodNavigator-USA. One, the plant needed to be near a growing source of milk, and two, near consumer distribution points, Bever said. 

Providing great manufacturing flexibility to meet consumer demand, address costs

As dairy producers are dealing with "extraordinary inflation in transportation and storage and raw ingredients,​" Tillamook needed to increase efficiencies, reduce production costs, and expand margins for its farmer owners, Bever said.

In addition to the challenges and costs facing the dairy industry, Tillamook uses an egg stabilizer in its products, which has been impacted by the high price of eggs​. In terms of transportation, the cost of “frozen freight is so expensive, and you also have some quality considerations around temperature shock and altitude shock that you have to be mindful of in a premium product like this,​” he added. 

All of that suggests … more plants, smaller plants in the right regions," ​Bever said. "It's likely that we will continue to add additional points of manufacturing.​”

Tillamook's expansion also boosts its efficiencies and control over manufacturing with the dedicated ice cream plant, allowing it to operate more flexibly, Bever said. 

"Partners are great, but they won't make the same tradeoffs that you will with your own plants. And so having a plant in the west and a plant in the east that are company-owned, that we can choose to run through a weekend or change over quickly to save a cut on a product, ... you can't necessarily expect [that] from a contract manufacturer.​" 

Bringing the Tillamook culture to the Midwest

Tillamook is bringing the work culture it built in Oregon to Illinois as it looks to fill the forty-five positions the company will need to operate the plant next year.

Ultimately, what will determine our success is our ability to create the same culture and this plant that we become known for in our Oregon plants. This is a values-driven organization, as evidenced by our B Corp certification. And if we can lift and shift that culture in this new community and new plant, we will be successful.​”

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