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Workers at Batavia yogurt plant left in limbo

WBFO News File Photo

The massive Muller Quaker yogurt plant in Batavia has apparently been sold and has shut down.

A PepsiCo spokesman on Thursday said the company and its German partner are shutting down production at the plant, which opened with much fanfare and state money in 2013.

The spokesman said the company will work to minimize job losses among the plant's 200 employees.

The $208 million yogurt plant was opened by Germany's Theo Muller Group and PepsiCo subsidiary Quaker Oats in the spring of 2013 with about $14 million in state tax credits.

But Assemblyman Stephen Hawley says there is a new owner who will reopen the plant once the deal is complete. He says it's no threat to dairy farmers in the area because yogurt sales are strong and there are other markets for milk.

Hawley says the new owner will be The Dairy Farmers of America milk cooperative, which has 14,000 members. He says the hopes are for most of plant's employees to be re-hired. It's not clear how long that ownership transition might take.

Hawley says the smaller Alpina yogurt plant in Batavia is ready to start a second shift and add perhaps 30 employees.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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.