Ornua invests $10 million in US cheese facility expansion

Irish dairy cooperative Ornua has announced a major expansion of its Ornua Ingredients North America division with a $10 (€8.75) million investment upgrading its Hilbert, Wisconsin, cheese ingredients operation.

The facility, located in the heart of Wisconsin’s famous dairy country, is already equipped with “some of the most advanced dairy processing equipment in the US dairy sector”, the Irish company says.

It also includes a state-of-the-art innovation centre that provides functional cheese solutions to Ornua’s US food ingredient and foodservice customers.

Ornua Ingredients North America operates two cheese-making facilities: the Hilbert plant; and another in Byron, Minnesota.

Ornua Ingredients North America specialises in producing “customised, functional cheese products” for major US food manufacturing and food-service customers.

According to the Irish exporter, the division is a “global leader in functional cheese solutions for applications in the meat, frozen meals, egg dishes, soups and sauces, bakery and pizza cheese categories”.

Last year the business supplied cheese for more than 50 million pizzas. Ornua attributed this investment as a result of “a period of exceptional multi-year growth in the division, with 2019 reporting a record year with double-digit growth”.

The expansion plans for Hilbert will add a further 22,000ft² of warehousing and cooling infrastructure to the operation, unlocking an additional 30% growth in production capacity.

Construction of the site’s new infrastructure is being carried out by Wisconsin building firm Bayland Construction and is expected to be completed in February 2021.

Commenting on the investment, Bernard Condon, managing director of Ornua Ingredients, said: “The latest round of investment to support the ambitious growth plans for Ornua Ingredients North America is a further $10 million.

This latest round of investment is consistent with the investments made since Ornua acquired Thiel Cheese and it is a business that will see further investment over the coming years.

“Hilbert is a core component of Ornua Ingredients North America’s ability to create value on behalf of our co-op members and generations of Irish dairy farming families,” Condon added.