Walmart says it plans to establish a milk processing plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., providing new opportunities for Indiana’s dairy industry and creating more than 200 jobs ranging from milk processing to transportation. To be operational by the end of 2017, the facility will be one of nation’s largest, the company says.
Construction is expected to begin this summer. The plant will exceed 250,000 sq. ft. and will supply 600 regional stores using technologies to produce Great Value and Member's Mark white and chocolate milk for Walmart and Sam's Club locations in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and northern Kentucky.
"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," says Tony Airoso, senior vice president of sourcing strategy for Walmart U.S.
The news follows Indiana’s 2015 dairy strategy, commissioned by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), to grow the state’s volume of dairy processors and creating market opportunities for expanded dairy production. With more than 1,200 Hoosier dairies, Indiana produced more than 4 billion lbs. of milk last year – 348 million in December alone – but approximately 4 million lbs. are exported every day. Walmart employs more than 38,000 associates across Indiana and operates 10 distribution centers in the state.
Indiana is currently home to 21 dairy processing plants and 14 farmstead operations, helping the Hoosier state rank 14th in the nation in milk production and second 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.