4:29pm

Tue June 4, 2013
The Upstate Economy

Greek yogurt plant could boost upstate dairy industry

Upstate New York’s newest Greek yogurt factory opened its doors in Batavia, Monday. The factory is a joint venture between Pepsi and German dairy giant, the Theo Muller Group. The Muller Quaker Dairy Plant is touted as a shot in the arm for the dairy industry in western New York.

The 350,000 square foot facility will produce several yogurt products, including the fast growing Greek yogurt varieties. The plant will initially operate three lines, producing more than 120,000 cups of yogurt per hour.

Officials say in the coming years the size of the operation could expand significantly with space for up to eight lines on site.

Sen. Charles Schumer says all the milk required will come from local sources.

“All of the fluid milk Muller Quaker uses in yogurt production will come from the local upstate Niagara co-op. There are going to be 390 local dairy farms that will supply high quality milk here.”

Schumer says the growing Greek yogurt industry could provide just the boost New York dairy farmers need.

“This is an amazing shot in the arm for our economy here in western New York, and I continue to pledge to do everything I can do to make this the most successful new venture in western New York in a very long time to come.”

The plant will create 180 jobs initially, with the possibility of higher employment numbers if production is expanded. The Batavia facility will also serve as the national distribution center for Muller Quaker yogurt. The company will ship the yogurt made in the facility across the U.S. to a range of grocery stores.

Nationwide, the consumption of yogurt has increased dramatically in recent years. Currently a $6.2 billion business, the yogurt industry is expected to experience continued growth in coming years.

Schumer says the opening of the plant is another step toward making upstate New York a leader in Greek style yogurt production.

The Greek yogurt industry has come under fire in recent weeks because of an acidic by-product created in the process.

Schumer says the Muller Quaker plant meets the highest environmental standards, meaning no damage will be caused by disposal of the acid-whey waste.