The new Walmart milk processing facility opened its doors in Fort Wayne on Wednesday. Walmart executives say that the new plant will produce their Great Value brand of white and chocolate milk for nearly 500 Walmart stores in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.
Governor Eric Holcomb was there to celebrate the opening and said, “To be able to do this here, to be able to supply five states with our area farmers, this is a big deal and something we’re very proud of. We cherish it, and I can guarantee Walmart will never regret standing this processing plant up right here in Allen County, Indiana.”
Walmart is working with approximately 25 farms across Indiana and Michigan that will supply milk to the facility. They say that each farm supplying the milk is within 210 miles of the plant. Tina Dirksen of Next Generations Dairy in Berne, IN says her operation should be much more efficient now that her milk only needs to travel about 30 miles to the plant. She says Walmart initially approached her and they’ve been great to work with.
“I feel very, very blessed. I feel like this opportunity, basically, fell in our lap and we didn’t have to do a whole lot of thinking about it. With them only being 30 miles away and what this would offer for future generations, it is very good.”
While they do have processing plants around the world, this is Walmart’s first processing plant in the United States. Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler says it speaks volumes about Indiana that Walmart chose this location.
“They saw what we started in our department three years ago, as far as the dairy strategy, to try to stem the tide of milk flowing out of the state of Indiana borders, but try to bring that back here and find ways to add value to our milk here in this region.”
The new plant will be in full production later this year. Nearly 200 Walmart associates have been hired to work in the plant with an additional 100 third-party hires anticipated to support transportation.