Friday, November 16, 2018
 Leprino Lifts Dairy Farmers' Hopes  
By Bill Jackson
Despite the price of milk “thoroughly collapsing” in the past few months, Leprino Foods of Denver has not changed plans to build a new cheese plant in Greeley, Colorado. And when complete, it will be the second largest of the nine plants the company has in the U.S., a Leprino official commented.

Mike Reidy, senior vice president of business development, was a featured speaker at the Colorado Farm Show Dairy Day program, and his talk drew a standing-room-only crowd in the meeting room of the Exhibition Building at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley.

For Chris Kraft, a dairy farmer from Fort Morgan, that was good news.

“We’re going to work our way out of this. The Fort Morgan plant helps us, and I think things will improve in May and June. But this new plant will be a welcome addition,” he said. His comments were echoed by other dairy producers.

Reidy said Leprino’s new plant will be operating in 2011. Once at full capacity, perhaps a year or so later, it will need 7 million pounds of milk per day, more than double the need in Fort Morgan, and will employ 500 people. Today, Colorado dairies produce about 7 million pounds per day.

The plant will require 1.2 million gallons of water per day.

“That’s one of the reasons we chose Greeley,” Reidy said. The company plans to build a water treatment plant north of the Poudre River in east Greeley.

Roy Otto, Greeley city manager, said Leprino obtained some grading and land permits about two weeks ago, and he expects the company to start getting building permits this spring.

Leprino is the largest producer of mozzarella cheese in the country for the quick-service restaurant business. In addition to plants in Colorado, it operates facilities in Minnesota, New Mexico, Nebraska, California and the United Kingdom.

Leprino gets all of its milk from Dairy Farmers of America, a cooperative that includes most Colorado dairies. In addition to mozzarella cheese it provides as diced and shredded product, it produces whey and lactose products, which it also will do at the Greeley plant. The plant is being built at the site of the former Western Sugar Factory on the east side of the city.

“We and the dairy industry are facing unbelievable challenges,” Reidy said, noting the recent drop in the price of milk is another sign of the nation’s declining economy.
Adding to the problems are declining exports, food safety crises — such as the recent salmonella bacteria found in some peanut products — that have eroded consumer confidence, and other factors, such as McDonald’s removing a second piece of cheese from its cheeseburgers. “There was no home for that cheese,” Reidy said.

Australia and New Zealand, however, have had drought conditions that have driven those markets to the United States. Other countries face land problems, political unrest and a myriad of other problems. Because of that, the “United States is well-positioned to supply the world,” Reidy said. He sees this country as the “last bastion of milk producers in the world.” And, he said, it will be the dairy industry of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas and New Mexico “that will drive us to better economics. That’s why we’re building a new plant.”

Source: Greeley Tribune (CO)

Posted on Thursday, January 29, 2009 (Archive on Thursday, February 05, 2009)
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