New York's dairy industry is getting a new milk buyer. PepsiCo and Theo Müller Gmbh, Germany's largest privately owned dairy business, recently announced that the state will be the site for their first yogurt-producing facility in the United States. Through their Wave LLC joint venture, the companies will invest $206 million and create 186 new manufacturing and support jobs to operate a yogurt processing facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia.
This opportunity is another strong boost to the region's growing dairy industry," says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In December, Fage USA announced it would proceed with its plans to double its 85,000 tons of Greek-style yogurt processing in the Mohawk Valley. Together with Fage's expansion plus the new Chobani yogurt processing plant in Chenango County, the Wave venture promises significant benefits to dairy farmers.
After a thorough evaluation, including an assessment of access to dairy resources, water supply and distribution routes to key markets, Wave officials chose the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. While the facility is being developed over two years, Wave may import Müller products in order to establish a foothold in the fast-growing U.S. yogurt business.
Yogurt consumption is the "hottest" growth product of the dairy industry. And Greek-style yogurt is the latest consumer rage. New York State is the nation's leader in producing it, using about three times the amount of milk than traditional yogurt.
New York already has 29 yogurt plants, employing more than 2,000 people and produced a total of 530 million pounds of yogurt in 2011 – up 43% increase from 2010 and more than double 2008 levelsWestern New York in particular has benefited from the yogurt boom. The 15-county area of Western New York accounts for approximately 40% of the state's total milk production.