A grocery company has sold its dairy processing plant to the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Inc.
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According to a release, Harris Teeter recently announced the sale of its Hunter Farms plant to the cooperative, which may result in growth opportunities for dairy producers in the Commonwealth.

The cooperative is an association of more than 900 dairy farm families in 13 states that bottle Maola brand milk and dairy products.

It was founded in 1920, and its members produce about three billion pounds of milk a year for consumers and manufacturers.

The release says nearly 160 full-time Hunter Farms’ associates will be keeping their jobs at the High Point, North Carolina facility that produces milk, a variety of frozen dairy treats, juices, ice creams and more.

This plant will expand the co-op’s capacity to produce specialty products.

“I think with a new plant we can expand some of the things we’re already doing,” said Joanna Shipp, who operates Bowmont Farm in Franklin County with her father, Laird Bowman. “And I’d like to see some value-added products added to our Maola brand, such as lactose-free products and specialty milk-blended drinks, like a milk-coffee drink. There is a lot of innovation going on in the fluid milk category right now.”

The release also says the acquisition of the processing plant will be a strategic opportunity to grow the cooperative and increase overall sales.

“This is a stake in the ground to grow the value-added business for our cooperative,” said Lindsay Reames, the vice president of sustainability and external relations at MDVA. “Adding processing capacity in North Carolina diversifies the marketplace for our farmers, and helps us grow our footprint in the Southeast.”

Hunter Farms’ ice cream and beverage brands will still be sold at Harris Teeter stores.

Nominations are open for Fonterra’s board election but a repeat of the drama that rocked the vote three years ago can be ruled out.

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