California Dairies shutters two plants in as many years

An “ever evolving” marketplace forces the closure of California Dairies’ Artesia facility back in June

VISALIA – Businesses all over California have been forced to navigate some treacherous waters. And unfortunately, there have been some tough decisions made in the last few months. In particular for California Dairies, Inc.

Last month, on June 29, the Visalia-based dairy company announced they were closing their Artesia manufacturing facility after more than 50 years in operation. The closure affects 49 employees.

“We deeply regret the impact this decision will have on our Artesia employees and the community and are committed to supporting our employees through this transition,” president and chief executive officer, Brad Anderson said. “The Artesia plant has been a valued facility with a long history that has served California Dairies and its member-owners well. This decision is not a reflection of the hard work of our talented employees in Artesia. As we navigate an ever-evolving marketplace, with shifting regional milk supplies, we continue to evaluate our asset network, and the products we produce, to maximize value to our customers and member-owners.”

The Artesia manufacturing facility was constructed in 1958. In 1980 California Milk Producers operated at this location before merging with Danish Creamery and San Joaquin Valley Dairymen in 1999 to become California Dairies, Inc.

This is the second plant that California Dairies has closed in as many years.

On March 17, 2018 California Dairies, Inc announced the shuttering of their Los Banos manufacturing facility which affected 63 employees.

In conjunction with the closure, California Dairies exited the cream cheese and Neufchatel business, which was served solely by the Los Banos facility. No other product segments were affected at the time. The primary reason for closing the Los Banos facility was due to a dramatic drop in demand for milk.

“The Los Banos plant has been a valued facility with a long history that has served California Dairies and its members well. Unfortunately, the declining volume of milk in California is affecting the entire dairy industry,” Andrei Mikhalevsky who was chief executive officer at the time said. “These reduced milk volumes, combined with the high cost of operating our Los Banos facility, are the sole drivers behind the decision. This decision is in no way a reflection on the hard work of our talented employees in Los Banos or the high-quality products they have produced.”

The Los Banos manufacturing facility had been in operation since 1925, where it was first operated as part of San Joaquin Valley Dairymen. The facility did reopen less than a year later focusing on manufacturing milk powder and processed fluids.

-This article was updated at 4:31 p.m. PST on August 4, 2020.

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