Hilmar Cheese embarks on Dodge

You could say it’s a cheese line, but a new cheese and whey factory is coming to Dodge City, Kan., This summer.

Hilmar Cheese Company Inc., Hilmar, Calif., Announced on May 5 that it has decided to build a new state-of-the-art cheese and whey protein processing plant in Dodge City this summer. The company made the announcement in conjunction with Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s office and Dodge City officials.

Investment in Kansas

“Our first-class workforce and central location make Kansas one of the best places in the country to do business,” said Kelly. “It’s great to see another major food maker like Hilmar choose to trust our state and Dodge City for their new facility. “

HILMAR CHEESE: Hilmar Cheese Co., Hilmar, Calif., Announced on May 5 the construction of a cheese and whey processing plant in Dodge City, Kan.

Hilmar is expected to inaugurate the facility this summer and be fully operational in 2024. The $ 460 million facility, according to Hilmar, is expected to create 247 new jobs in the community. It is expected to bring an additional investment of $ 550 million and 750 new jobs within an 80 km radius of Dodge City by the end of 2023.

That would include employment at existing and new dairies in the area, investment in dairy expansion, transportation and more, according to Joann Knight, executive director of Dodge City / Ford County Development Corp. Company spokespersons predict that milk for the Dodge City plant will come from dairies in southwest Kansas.

Ideal location

David Ahlem, CEO and Chairman of Hilmar, says Dodge City is an “ideal choice” given its central location, critical existing infrastructure, proximity to the growing local dairy industry and favorable climate for farmers. business. Over the past 10 years, western Kansas has seen a growth in the number of large dairies relocated from other states to the region, due to the availability of land and raw materials, and labor. available.

According to the April 21 Kansas Milk Production report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Kansas milk production is on the rise. March milk production in the state exceeded 362 million pounds, up 3% from March 2020. The average number of dairy cows was 175,000 head, or 4,000 head more than there was. a year. And milk production per cow averages 2,070 pounds.

Hilmar produces a variety of cheeses, and the whey is then made into whey protein products which are used as ingredients in many foods, including drinks and nutrition bars; and lactose, which is marketed internationally as an ingredient in confectionery and infant formula.

Sustainable measures

Hilmar is a leader in sustainable practices and has adopted the United States’ Commitment to Good Dairy Stewardship and the goal of achieving a net zero dairy industry by 2050, according to the company statement. The Dodge City facility will feature cutting edge sustainable solutions.

“We want our factory to be as good for the environment as it will be for the local economy,” says Ahlem. “We will use sustainable technologies and practices to promote carbon neutrality. “

Nick Hernandez, City Manager of Dodge City, says Hilmar is a great fit for the city’s sustainability efforts.

“One of the biggest benefits for Hilmar Cheese Co. and Dodge City is the cohesive nature of our sustainability efforts,” said Hernandez. “They have an ongoing commitment to be stewards of the environment, just like Dodge City; and through this mutually beneficial partnership, we will be able to use more of our wastewater for crop irrigation and biogas production.

In 2018, the city completed its Warrior Project Biogas facility, an anaerobic digester that produces raw biogas from wastewater from the nearby National Beef packaging facility and municipal waste.

Entering Dodge

Hilmar Cheese Co. was founded in 1984 by 12 families from local dairy farms in the Central Valley of California. Privately owned, the company employs more than 1,500 residents near its facilities in California and Dalhart, Texas.

The project was a collaboration between many organizations. Kansas State Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Transportation; Dodge City, Ford County, Dodge City / Ford County Development Corp. ; Energy of the Black Hills; Electric victory; United Tel • Com; Dodge City Public Schools 443 USD; Dodge Town Community College; and local agricultural producers helped bring the new business to the community.

“We greatly appreciate the warm welcome from officials in the State of Kansas and the City of Dodge City, whose values ​​of integrity and excellence closely match our own,” said Ahlem. “Dodge City offers us many opportunities, including a local and skilled workforce, a favorable and expanding agricultural region, and an excellent transportation network that allows us to easily reach our expanding markets. We are really happy with our decision and excited to be part of this exceptional community.

Hilmar Cheese Co. contributed to this article.

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Jamie Collins

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