Friday, March 18 2016
Facility to be one of nation's largest, support Indiana's agriculture industry
Fort Wayne, IN -- Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer, announced plans today to establish a milk processing plant in Fort Wayne, providing new opportunities for Indiana’s dairy industry and creating more than 200 good-paying jobs ranging from milk processing to transportation by the end of 2017.
“Today, Indiana’s agriculture industry contributes $31 billion to the state’s economy and supports more than 100,000 Hoosier jobs,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Last year, Walmart opened a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center in Plainfield, creating more than 300 jobs, and today we celebrate 200 more. I’m proud to welcome this expansion as we work to create quality jobs for Hoosiers and support our Indiana farmers.”
With construction anticipated to begin this summer, Walmart will build a more than 250,000-square-foot milk processing plant, which is expected to be one of the largest in the industry, at 2322 W. Pleasant Center Road. The highly-efficient plant will leverage the latest technologies to produce Great Value and Member’s Mark white and chocolate milk for more than 600 Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Walmart estimates that milk processing will begin in the summer of 2017.
“By operating our own plant and working directly with dairy COOPs in the Midwest, we’ll further reduce operating costs and pass those savings on to our customers so that they can save money,” said Tony Airoso, senior vice president of global food sourcing for Walmart. “This facility is an example of how we are always finding efficiencies within the supply chain to deliver everyday low prices and high quality groceries.”
Today’s news comes on the heels of Indiana’s 2015 dairy strategy, commissioned by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), to grow the state’s industry by increasing the volume of dairy processing and creating market opportunities for expanded dairy production. With more than 1,200 Hoosier dairies, Indiana produced more than 4 billion pounds of milk last year – 348 million pounds in December alone – but approximately 4 million pounds of milk are exported every day. This new plant will help local farmers save on transportation costs and ensure that more Hoosier-grown milk stays in Indiana.
“When preparation meets opportunity, good things happen in the Allen County community,” said Nelson Peters, Allen County Commissioner. “We are extremely excited to welcome Walmart here with this unique project. By tying agriculture to economic development, we are acknowledging the importance of our agricultural base while providing great paying jobs for our citizens.”
Walmart employs more than 38,000 associates across Indiana and operates ten distribution centers in the state. The retailer’s community giving to local organizations includes tens of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind donations from its stores, Sam’s Clubs and the Walmart Foundation. In fiscal year 2015, Walmart spent $1.7 billion with Indiana suppliers, supporting more than 33,000 Hoosier jobs.
“This is tremendous news for Indiana and not only affirms our dairy strategy is working, but also that our business climate and geographic location are conducive to economic development in the agriculture industry,” said Ted McKinney, director of the ISDA. “I applaud Walmart’s decision and commitment to support Indiana’s dairy farmers and for growing this robust, vital industry in our state.”
Indiana is home to 21 dairy processing plants and 14 farmstead operations, helping the Hoosier state rank No. 14 in the nation in milk production and No. 2 in ice cream production. Indiana has roughly 184,000 milk cows which can produce an average of 61 pounds of milk per day, accounting for nearly 2 percent of total U.S. milk production.