A year ago, the state of Indiana set out a new dairy strategy that called for increasing the state’s milk processing capacity. Today Walmart announced it will be building a new milk processing plant in Fort Wayne. ISDA director Ted McKinney told HAT this will be a new market for dairy producers in NE Indiana, “Every day, 4 million pounds of milk leaves Indiana unprocessed. With more processing capacity, we can keep more of that milk here and add value.”
With construction anticipated to begin this summer, Walmart will build a more than 250,000-square-foot milk processing plant, which is expected to be one of the largest in the industry. The highly efficient plant will leverage the latest technologies to produce Great Value and Member’s Mark white and chocolate milk for more than 600 Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky. Walmart estimates that milk processing will begin in the summer of 2017.
McKinney says one of the reasons Walmart chose Indiana was the state of the Indiana dairy industry, “First and foremost, they needed a reliable supply of milk and a high quality supply of class 1 milk; they found that in Indiana.” Walmart indicated that milk will also be sourced from Ohio and Michigan. “By operating our own plant and working directly with the dairy supply chain in the Midwest, we’ll further reduce operating costs and pass those savings on to our customers so that they can save money,” said Tony Airoso, senior vice president of sourcing strategy for Walmart U.S. “This facility is an example of how we are always finding efficiencies within the supply chain to deliver everyday low prices and high quality groceries.”
“This is tremendous news for Indiana; and not only affirms our dairy strategy is working, but also that our business climate and geographic location is conducive to economic development in the agriculture industry,” said McKinney. He added that this is not the end of the dairy strategy and implied there may be other announcements coming in the future.
“Today, Indiana’s agriculture industry contributes $31 billion to the state’s economy and supports more than 100,000 Hoosier jobs,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Last year, Walmart opened a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center in Plainfield, creating more than 300 jobs, and today we celebrate 200 more. I’m proud to welcome this expansion as we work to create quality jobs for Hoosiers and support our Indiana farmers.”
Indiana is home to 21 dairy processing plants and 14 farmstead operations, helping the Hoosier state rank No. 14 in the nation in milk production and No. 2 in ice cream production. On average, Indiana has roughly 184,000 milk cows which can produce 61 pounds of milk per day, accounting for nearly 2 percent of total U.S. milk production. With more than 1,200 Hoosier dairies, Indiana produced more than 4 billion pounds of milk last year – 348 million pounds in December alone. Walmart employs more than 38,000 associates across Indiana and operates ten distribution centers in the state. The retailer’s community giving to local organizations includes tens of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind donations from its stores, Sam’s Clubs, and the Walmart Foundation. In fiscal year 2015, Walmart spent $1.7 billion with Indiana suppliers, supporting more than 33,000 Hoosier jobs.