Darigold broke ground on a $600 million facility in Pasco, Washington, to make butter and powdered milk products.
When fully operational, the plant will process about 8 million pounds of milk per day from 100 area dairy farms, the Seattle-based dairy co-op said in a press release. It will feature two specialized milk dryers and a pair of packaging lines for powdered milk products, known in the industry as premium proteins. The facility will be able to produce nearly 280 million pounds of powdered milk products annually, including for sensitive applications such as baby formula.
Darigold’s new plant also will have two butter churns, two bulk butter packaging lines for commercial and institutional customers and five consumer butter packaging lines. These will enable it to produce about 175 million pounds of butter per year. With its proximity to rail lines and global shipping ports, Darigold said the new plant will provide transportation efficiencies for products going to domestic and global customers.
The Pasco facility should be operational by early 2024, and Darigold plans to hire about 200 employees.
"The Pasco project represents our third major capital investment in as many years, the largest investment in our co-op's 104-year-history, and a significant step in an ongoing strategy to expand and modernize Darigold," said Joe Coote, its CEO.
The facility is about two years in the making for Darigold as it seeks to become a global dairy ingredients business. The marketing and processing subsidiary of the Northwest Dairy Association is owned by more than 300 family-owned dairy farms in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Darigold is one of the largest U.S. dairy processors, handling about 10 billion pounds of milk annually. It operates 11 plants in the Northwest.
The Pasco plant will have several design features to support Darigold’s commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.
Technology will “significantly” reduce the milk dryers’ nitrogen oxide emissions, according to the co-op. Darigold also said it is in discussions with the City of Pasco to expand its Process Water Reuse Facility, which will use anaerobic digesters to treat agriculture-related wastewater from local food processors, generating renewable natural gas that can be sold on the West Coast market.
The combination of new technologies and conservation strategies could mitigate more than 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, Darigold said.