TIPP CITY — In recognition of Ohio Ag Week, which celebrates the state’s largest industry, the Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels made a stop at a dairy facility in Tipp City on Wednesday morning.
Daniels toured the Purple Cow Creamery, the dairy production facility at the Meijer Distribution Center. The facility, which opened in August 2015, is one of Meijer’s six dairy facilities and their first in the state of Ohio.
According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), agriculture is the state’s largest industry, contributing $105 billion to the economy and employing one out of every seven Ohio workers.
“A lot of people say, ‘That can’t be right, there’s not that many people planting seeds.’ And there’s not. But stop and look at the people here who are producing the milk products, stop and think about the truckers that are bringing that milk product in here to be processed. It goes on and on,” Daniels said. “Whether you live in a large urban area or a small rural area, agriculture’s part of your daily life.”
Receiving an average of 10 tanker-loads of raw milk every day, the facility pasteurizes and processes liquid milk, creamer, juices, and teas for sale in Meijer stores throughout the region. Purple Cow Creamery plans to begin producing cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt this year. Production may also grow to include ice cream in the future.
The milk is sourced from farms in a 100 mile radius and is one of Meijer’s largest suppliers of liquid milk, plant manager Ted Johannssen said.
“Right now, we primarily service Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and part of the Michigan market for conventional milk,” Johannssen said. Meijer has stores in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Wisconsin.
The Tipp City facility and another production plant in Holland, Mich., supply liquid milk to all of the Meijer stores, Johannssen said. He added that he expects that the Tipp City facility will expand to surpass the larger plant in Holland within 10 years.
The facility broke ground in August 2014 and was producing milk for sale in August 2015.
“It’s pretty impressive getting this up and operating in a year,” Daniels said. “I’m extremely impressed with the technology being used here.”
Dave Mengel, of the ODA’s Dairy Division, added that the facility has the most modern ultra-high-temperature (UHT) processing system in the state.
Quality manager Teresa Mumford led a tour of the entire facility, from raw milk intake and plastic container production, to quality assurance laboratories. The tour also looked in on the filling room.
“There’s nothing more high tech than food manufacturing. There just isn’t,” Daniels said.
Daniels also made stops at a family farm in Marietta, as well as the Hocking Hills Winery in Logan. More stops are planned for the rest of the week, including a visit to the facility that makes Dum Dum Suckers in Bryan.
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