High Desert Milk is investing $50 million in a project to increase its annual butter output from 45 million pounds to 85 million pounds and add a new, high-demand milk-powder product — MPC-70 — to its lineup.
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High Desert Milk CEO and co-founder Randy Robinson and Brandon Carter, the cooperative’s director of research and development, examine a milk sample they’re testing in the Burley, Idaho, processing plant’s lab. One of Idaho’s leading dairy processors, High Desert Milk has undertaken a major expansion that nearly doubles its output. Dairy West

BURLEY, Idaho – The co-op, in Burley, Idaho, announced its expansion in a press release.

MPC-70 is a milk-protein concentrate often used in sports-nutrition beverages, protein bars, icings, desserts, soups, sauces, baked goods and dairy foods.

The co-op plans to produce 36 million pounds of MPC-70 annually, with 60% earmarked for Latin America.

The new production line, which is part of a 10-year growth plan, became operational in June. Although a cooperative, High Desert recently began contracting milk.

“Finding new sources of milk is a new business model for us as a vertically integrated cooperative,” Randy Robinson, High Desert CEO, said in the press release.

“We currently receive 2.2 million pounds of milk per day, and when our MPC-70 production line goes online our intake capacity will reach 4.7 million pounds per day,” he said.

The co-op also produces 68 million pounds of nonfat dry milk annually.

A half-dozen dairy farm families joined together in 2001 to establish High Desert Milk as a marketing cooperative to secure better pricing. It built a milk powder plant in 2008 and began offering sweet cream in 2008 and butter in 2013.

“We have dedicated people, the resources and the room it takes to have a thriving dairy industry in this state. Our ability to provide the world with safe, nutritious, sustainable and affordable products is one of our greatest assets,” Robinson said.

High Desert Milk employees Fabian Beltran and Kim Espinoza monitor processes in the control room. The Burley-based cooperative, one of Idaho’s leading dairy processors, has undertaken a major expansion that nearly doubles its output.

High Desert Milk handles everything from the animal feed to the milking parlor to the package, allowing the company to control quality and food safety, he said.

The company has been a leading innovator in the food-production business since its inception, said Karianne Fallow, CEO of Dairy West, a regional dairy promotion organization.

“High Desert Milk is a leading example of the kind of innovative, growth-oriented companies that prosper in Idaho because it cares about the animals, the people, and the products that make it so successful,” she said.

High Desert’s current output represents 5% of the total milk processed in Idaho, she said.

The company employed 105 people prior to the expansion and expects to add another 44 jobs with the new MPC-70 production line.

This is the second large expansion since the plant was built in 2008. The co-op added an extra 500,000 pounds of butter-making capacity to the existing facility in 2013.

Arla Foods is examining how dairy farming can help improve soil biology, carbon capture, water quality and biodiversity via regenerative farming methods.

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