Kroger announced it will invest $70 million to make a 35,000-square-foot expansion at Tamarack Farms Dairy in west Newark, after considering other locations.
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The expansion will allow the company to add a state-of-the-art aseptic milk line capable of manufacturing various sizes of half-and-half, heavy whipping cream, coffee creamers and Carbmaster milk beverage at PET bottles. The aseptic milk line will be the grocer’s first in the Midwest.

Newark City Council last week approved an Enterprise Zone agreement with Kroger that provides the company a 10-year, 75% tax abatement on increased property valuation associated with expansion. The enterprise zone agreement is actually between Kroger and the Licking County Commissioners, but council approved a resolution consenting to the agreement.

Newark Development Director Mark Mauter thanked council members for their vote, saying waiving the two-day reading rule and 30-day waiting period on the legislation saved Kroger 44 days.

“In this day and age, that’s a big deal,” Mauter said of council’s quick action. “That sends a good message Newark is pro-business and willing to work with our corporate partners. This is a great economic development project.”

Tamarack Farms Dairy, built in 1978, sits on 20 acres at 1701 Tamarack Road, employing 145. It is the largest fluid dairy in the state and supports about 160 Kroger stores in Ohio and West Virginia. Kroger owns and operates dairy-producing facilities across the U.S. and promotes its 10-day milk freshness guarantee.

“We are so pleased to see this continued investment in Newark,” said Doug Blacksten, the Kroger senior director of supply chain and manufacturing. “Kroger is fresh for everyone, and that means we are committed to sourcing and manufacturing only the best and freshest products. This cutting-edge innovation at Tamarack Farms Dairy underscores that commitment, improving our ability to offer high-quality dairy products to Kroger customers.”

The aseptic milk line is part of Kroger’s large-scale efforts to deliver long shelf-life high protein drinks, non-dairy and dairy products through modern technology. The expansion will begin by Sept. 30 and finish by June 30, 2023, the company states.

Mauter told council’s finance committee on June 6 the Newark facility was one of three sites Kroger considered for the project, along with Winchester, Kentucky and Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Kroger’s application for the enterprise zone stated several locations, most prominently in Texas, presented the company incentive packages for the project.

Mauter said Kroger had selected Newark, but it was contingent on the enterprise zone agreement.

Newark Mayor Jeff Hall said in a statement, “We are thankful and delighted that Kroger company has chosen their Newark Tamarack Farms Dairy production facility as the site for their expansion project. Kroger has been a great partner in our community for many years, providing good jobs for local employees and superior products for our consumers.”

Kroger stated the incentives would not only retain the 145 jobs and $9.3 million in payroll, but allow it to add six jobs in three years. The company would invest $16 million to build the addition and $54 million to purchase and install new machinery and equipment.

“Kroger’s significant investment transforms the Tamarack Farms Dairy into an aseptic processing facility, creating a new market for Ohio’s dairy industry,” said Tim Derickson, the JobsOhio senior managing director of food and agribusiness. “The extended shelf-life dairy product that will come from the cutting-edge operations in the Licking County facility will meet growing demand for Kroger’s customers nationwide and boost demand for dairy farmers throughout central Ohio.”

Kroger serves more than 9 million customers daily through digital shopping and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names.

The company opened a 123,455-square-foot Kroger Marketplace in 2016 at the former Meijer site at 1155 N. 21st St., and closed its 80,000-square-foot Deo Drive store, which opened in 1980.


Twitter: @kmallett1958

Fluid milk consumption has seen a decline among US consumers since the 1960s.

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