California Dairies acquires Hilmar Cheese plant

California Dairies, Inc. of Visalia purchases Hilmar Cheese Company’s milk powder facility in Turlock

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

VISALIA – California’s largest milk producer has purchased one of the state’s most state-of-the-art milk powder manufacturing plants.

On May 21, Visalia-based California Dairies, Inc. (CDI) announced it had completed an acquisition of Hilmar Cheese Company’s milk powder facility in Turlock, Calif.

“This is an exciting opportunity for CDI and our farmer-owners to acquire a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with the ability to produce and market high-quality milk powders,” said Andrei Mikhalevsky, CDI president and CEO. “This expansion of CDI’s manufacturing footprint in California fits exceptionally well within our core mission to profitably market, process and add value to the milk produced by our member-owners.”

Originally constructed in 2015, this facility integrates advanced processing technology to manufacture a range of high quality milk powders, largely for the export market. CDI has offered positions to all of the facility’s current employees so they can continue their valuable roles within the operation.

A year ago, CDI ceased operations at its Los Banos manufacturing facility, signaling its exit from the cream cheese and Neufchatel business. The Los Banos facility had been in operation since 1925, where it was first operated as part of San Joaquin Valley Dairymen, before merging with Danish Creamery and California Milk Producers in 1999 to become California Dairies, Inc. The acquisition of the Turlock plant means CDI will return to operating six manufacturing facilities.

In the last 12 months, CDI has announced the hiring of a new chief operating officer (COO) and that its current chief executive officer (CEO) will retire later this year. In September, CDI announced Brad Anderson as its new COO. With more than 25 years of consumer products experience, Anderson brings with him an extensive background in corporate strategy and an expertise in commercial sales in the food and beverage industry. His most recent role was senior vice president and chief sales officer at the largest fluid milk processor in the U.S., Dean Foods. Prior to his time at Dean Foods, Anderson has held positions of increasing responsibility at Sara Lee Corporation, Pepsi Bottling Group and Earthgrains Company. As an active member in the industry, he recently served as the board chairman of MilkPEP. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Georgia.

Just last month, CDI’s president and CEO Andrei Mikhalevsky announced his intention to retire from his position as of Dec. 31, 2019. The CDI board of directors has initiated a search to identify candidates as his successor. Mikhalevsky and the CDI board are committed to ensuring a smooth transition to a new president and CEO. Please direct any questions to Stacy Heaton, director of communications.

CDI is the largest member-owned milk marketing and processing cooperative in California producing 40 percent of California’s milk. Co-owned by nearly 400 dairy producers who ship 16 billion pounds of Real California Milk annually. California Dairies, Inc. is a manufacturer of quality butter, fluid milk products and milk powders. In addition, California Dairies, Inc. is the home of two leading and well-respected brands of butter – Challenge and Danish Creamery. California Dairies’ quality dairy products are available in all 50 United States and in more than 50 foreign countries. For more information visit www.californiadairies.com.

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