World’s leading cheese company to expand Kraft plant in Tulare

French-owned Lactalis acquired the $38 million Tulare facility and two others in the U.S. last November

TULARE – Say cheese, Tulare, because the city’s top crop is growing in value. 

City of Tulare officials have been told by the new owner of the Kraft Cheese plant along Highway 99 in Tulare that they will expand the facility adding a new cheese line to several varieties produced at the plant. French-owned Lactalis completed the year-long process of purchasing three Kraft plants last November.

Already the world’s leader in cheese production, Lactalis acquired a portfolio of iconic cheese brands from Kraft including Cracker Barrel, Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Hoffman’s and a perpetual license for the use of the Kraft brand in natural, grated and international cheeses. Lactalis also acquired the Cheez Whiz brand outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and the Philippines and a license for the use of the Velveeta brand in natural and international cheeses. The acquisition included approximately 750 employees and three production facilities located in Tulare, Calif., Walton, N.Y. and Wausau, Wisc. The Kraft/Lactalis plant in Tulare currently employs around 250.

Assistant City Manager Josh MacDonnell said the company told the city to expect a site plan review application that would detail construction plans for the expansion of the $38 million facility. The Kraft plant is just one of eight dairy-related facilities in Tulare where milk is king and a major contributor to the county’s $1.8 billion dairy crop. Expansions are also in the works at US Cold Storage and Saputo Cheese in town.

The Kraft Tulare facility was originally a Louis Rich turkey plant in the 1990s but closed and later was converted to make cheese, mostly mozzarella and parmesan. The Tulare plant and Lactalis’ other U.S. businesses will operate as Lactalis Heritage Dairy, a newly formed division of Lactalis based in Chicago. Groupe Lactalis, the world’s leading dairy group, is a French-family business founded in 1933 in Laval, France. Present in 51 countries, with 266 dairies and cheese dairies throughout the world, its 85,000 employees promote milk in all its forms: cheese, drinking milk, yogurts, butters and creams, dairy ingredients and nutrition. The company also offers products from emblematic international brands such as Président, Galbani and Parmalat.

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