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Yogurt plant opens in Genesee County

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Mike Desmond/WBFO

The new Alpina foods yogurt plant held its formal ribbon-cutting Monday in the Town of  Batavia.

By the time the plant reaches full production, probably next year, Alpina expects to need 50,000 gallons of milk a day for its yogurt production.

Dairy farmer John Noble says he plans to be shipping 8 to 10  tank-truck loads of milk a day to the plant from his 1,500 cows.

The plant has 30 new employees and expects to add 20 more in the coming months.

Everyone visting the plant for the ceremony in the $40 million plant could look across the street and see a far larger plant under construction which Muller Quaker will use to make Greek yogurt, requiring even more cows.

"Agriculture was always here. As markets change and people's buying habits change it comes and goes and ebbs and flows, but dairy was always there and was always a foundation," said Roger Parkhurst, director of operations for Alpina's American operations.

"You go back and look at the Krafts and the Upstates and the Dairyleas.  You always see it as  strong quality foods. There's always a strong history of dairy in New York State."

Parkhurst says this new plant opportunity drew him back to his home state.

Juan Pablo Fernandez is general manager for Alpina Foods and corporate vice president for innovation and marketing.

Fernandez says everything came together in Batavia for the plant with plenty of farms in the vicinity and being " close to  the centers of consumption."

He also gave credit to Governor Cuomo for being "so helpful in bringing investment."

The Buffalo Niagara Enterprise worked with Genesee County economic developers to get the plant into Batavia.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.