Valley Milk LLC named a CEO. February dairy product output was up. Researchers find health benefits of milkfat. This and other U.S. dairy industry news can be found here.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

Valley Milk names CEO, schedules groundbreaking for April 25

California-based Valley Milk LLC hired dairy industry veteran Patti Smith as its first chief executive officer. The company is scheduled to break ground on a new milk powder processing facility on April 29.

Smith’s 25 years of global experience includes positions with Fonterra and Roquette Group.

Valley Milk’s plant location, in Turlock’s regional business park, will provide access to the Port of Oakland for exporting milk powders. 

The plant will have the capacity to process about 2.0 million to 2.5 million pounds of milk daily, sourced from California’s Central Valley. Production of specialty dairy ingredients, including low-spore, agglomerated and instantized powders, is expected to begin in July 2017.


Valley Milk was established by the Machado, TeVelde, Vander Schaaf, deJager and Kelley dairy farm families, and members of Progressive Dairy Solutions, Oakdale, California. Dairy producer Don Machado serves as company chairman.

CWT assists with 152,000 pounds of cheese export sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) accepted two requests for export assistance to sell 152,119 pounds of cheddar cheese to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery from April through August 2016.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives to sell 12.361 million pounds of cheese, 7.716 million pounds of butter and 14.676 million pounds of whole milk powder to 14 countries. The sales are the equivalent of 394.8 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

February dairy products report

More milk and an extra day due to Leap Year pushed February 2016 U.S. production of most dairy products higher, according to USDA’s monthly report released April 5:

• Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 956 million pounds, 7.8 percent more than February 2015, but 4.7 percent less than January 2016.

• Italian-type cheese production totaled 431 million pounds, 9.2 percent more than February 2015, but 1.0 percent less than January 2016.

• American-type cheese production totaled 368 million pounds, 4.9 percent more than February 2015, but 8.2 percent less than January 2016.

• Butter production was 171 million pounds, 9.6 percent more than February 2015, but 2.5 percent less than January 2016.

Production of nonfat dry milk, dry whey and whey protein concentrate was down from a year earlier, but skim milk powder output was up.

In defense of dairy fat

The recently updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans continues to recommend consumption of low-fat dairy products as part of a healthy diet. However, it may be time to revisit that recommendation, according to a recent post by Dr. Ruth Kava, senior nutrition fellow with the American Council on Science and Health (ASCH).

Kava cites a recent report examining blood levels of dairy fatty acids in participants in two long-term prospective studies. Samples from the Nurses’ Health Study were collected in 1989-90, and those from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study were obtained in 1993-94. In all, the samples from 3,333 adults aged 30-75 years were analyzed. On average, the participants were followed for about 15 years to assess the incidence of diabetes. During that time 277 new cases of diabetes were diagnosed.

The researchers found higher plasma levels of particular fatty acids derived from dairy foods were associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes by anywhere from 44 percent to 52 percent.

Read Maybe dairy fat isn’t so bad after all.

Almond beverage sales top other ‘milk’ substitutes

A beverage derived from almonds is now America’s favorite milk substitute but still accounts for only about 5 percent of the total “milk” market, according to a Nielsen survey.

Nielsen reported sales of almond “milk” increased 250 percent over the past five years, during a time the total milk market declined by more than $1 billion. Sales of the beverage derived from almonds now bring in twice the revenue of soy, coconut, rice and other milk substitutes combined.

Despite the huge growth in almond milk sales between 2011 and 2014, the pace did slow a bit in 2015, suggesting a potential plateau.

Read Americans are nuts for almond milk.

U.S. organic dairy growth lagging behind Europe

U.S. organic dairy sales lag behind four other countries when comparing organic dairy as a percentage of total dairy sales.

According to Organic Milk Market Report 2015, produced by the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCO) in the United Kingdom, the top countries in terms of organic milk as a percentage of total milk sales are:

Denmark – 24 percent

Sweden –12.2 percent

UK –7.5 percent

Belgium – 7.1 percent

U.S. – 5.9 percent

Canada – 5.8 percent

France – 4.5 percent

Germany – 4.5 percent

Australia – 4.5 percent

Finland – 2.8 percent

The compound annual growth rate for the organic dairy market 2007-12 for North America was 3.3 percent. In contrast, world growth was 3.7 percent, Europe and Scandinavia was 5.3 percent and rest of the world was 16.9 percent.

Annual U.S. organic dairy products sales increased to 2.45 billion pounds in 2014, but then declined slightly to 2.43 billion pounds in 2015.

Lower feed costs and an early spring are boosting optimism for organic dairy growth in 2015, but the U.S. organic dairy market has come to depend on imports to meet demand.

Read OMSCO’s Organic Milk Market Report 2015. PD

Dave Natzke