US – Darigold, a Northwest dairy cooperative owned by farm families throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, has held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new production facility located in Pasco, Washington.

The US$600 million facility, slated for 2024, will process about 8 million lbs of milk per day, 175 million lbs of butter per year, and close to 280 million lbs of powdered milk products annually once it is completely operational.

The milk will come from more than 100 dairy farms in surrounding communities, the company said in a press release.

The marketing and processing subsidiary of the Northwest Dairy Association said the facility will be outfitted with two specialized milk dryers and two packaging lines for powdered milk products, two butter churns, two bulk butter packaging lines, and five consumer butter packaging lines.

Darigold anticipates the new facility’s technologies and conservation strategies combined could help it mitigate more than 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

The plant’s milk dryers will feature burner technology that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by a significant amount, per the cooperative.

This investment, according to Darigold, is the most substantial investment in the cooperative’s century-plus history.

Joe Coote, the chief executive officer said: “The Pasco project represents our third major capital investment in as many years, the largest investment in our co-op’s 104-year-history and a significant step in an ongoing strategy to expand and modernize Darigold.

 “We are a beloved heritage brand with deep roots in Washington and around the Pacific Northwest, but there’s still considerable opportunity for us to leverage industry growth, here at home and around the world, to become a top-tier global dairy producer. This facility will play an important role in helping us achieve that vision.”

Darigold noted to have chosen the facility’s location due to the site’s proximity to both rail lines and global shipping ports, which it expects will make distribution more efficient both domestically and internationally.

“Dairy farmers in the Pacific Northwest have a unique opportunity to benefit from global demand for dairy, which is rising considerably faster than it is domestically,” said Allan Huttema, chairman of Darigold’s board of directors, and operator of Almar Dairy in Parma, Idaho.

“This region is ideally suited to producing high-quality, nutritious dairy, and our proximity to global shipping infrastructure makes it more efficient to access international markets.”

The cooperative said the investment it is making has come at the right time citing US Department of Agriculture data that showed demand for dairy grew by 1.6% in the United States in 2021 when demand for dairy exports increased by 19%.

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