Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 5, 2000

DFA's Winsted plant now DairiConcepts

By Jane Otto

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) may not have a sign over its door, but it's not because it's closing.

A "DairiConcepts" sign will soon fill the void.

Manager Lisa Hensel said that DairiConcepts is a spin-off company resulting from a joint venture between DFA and the New Zealand Dairy Board (NZDB) which was effective May 18. The company will manufacture and market cheese and dairy ingredients for applications in the food processing industry.

The Winsted plant, along with plants in Springfield, Mo.; Bruce, Wis.; and Hummelstown, Penn. are part of DairiConcepts.

According to a DFA new release, Dairiconcepts is a limited partnership with equal DFA and NZDB ownership and management. The new company will combine the resources of NZDB's cheese technology and ingredients company, NZMP Key Ingredients, and the manufacturing and marketing resources of DFA.

The NZDB is the marketing arm of the New Zealand dairy industry. The board's main business is separated into consumer, food service, and ingredients sales.

DairiConcepts, which is headquartered in Springfield, Mo., will initially market established product lines, but will soon offer new types of ingredients coming from its expanded research and development operations.

However, the activity level at the Winsted plant hasn't risen any. The majority of employees are still laid off.

"When all is said and done, there will be eight employees here," she said.

The Winsted plant is a distribution site at the moment until sale orders start coming in for these special cheese-type products, Hensel said. Presently, whey products are stored in coolers and in dry storage for distribution to other points.

Hensel said that DairiConcepts will still have to continue to address the noise and odor problems about which local residents have complained.

When asked if the noise and odor problems could have contributed to the shutdown of production, Hensel said, "You can't blame it on one thing. We'll just have to see what happens."

Traffic activity will decrease on First Street as the Winsted plant will stop receiving milk July 1.

"We knew that that would happen once the cheese plant closed," said Hensel.

Hensel said the local plant didn't do anything with the milk; it was just shipped elsewhere for production. The change will affect local haulers, she added.

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