NYT article suggests Batavia headed toward "yogurt cluster" status
The possible "yogurt cluster" in Batavia is part of a statewide trend in the manufacture and distribution of Greek yogurt, according to a story just published by the The New York Times.
Alpina Foods, the United States arm of a major South American dairy company, is building a $20 million plant in Batavia to make Greek yogurt topped with granola. And state economic development officials are negotiating with another major food maker to set up a dairy products plant in the same area, creating the possibility for what one executive called a “yogurt cluster.”
Of course, readers of The Batavian (and no other local source in this case) know the "major food maker" is PepsiCo.
However, I spoke to some dairy product insiders recently who don't believe yogurt is what PepsiCo is planning. They said they expect Pepsi to announce a dairy-based nutrition drink.
More from the Times:
National retail sales of the thicker style of yogurt more than doubled last year, jumping to $821 million for a 52-week period ending in October ...
New York’s dairy farmers are among the biggest beneficiaries of the public’s love affair with Greek yogurt, since it typically takes three times as much milk to make a pound of Greek yogurt as it does for regular yogurt. “This is a ‘once every two or three generations’ situation,” said Bruce Krupke, executive vice president of the Northeast Dairy Foods Association. “All of the right forces have come together to make it very attractive to build in New York state.”
Data compiled by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets shows that the state produced 368 million pounds of yogurt in 2010, nearly 40 percent more than the previous year. Over five years, production rose almost 60 percent. Much of that increase is for Greek yogurt production. ...
The Greek yogurt boom has translated into jobs in rural areas of New York that badly need them. Chobani (a brand of Greek yogurt) said it currently employed about 900 people in New York and expected to add about 100 more. Fage said it had about 240 full-time employees and expected to add about 150. The new Alpina plant in Batavia will employ about 50 people.
We're still in a wait-and-see mode about Pepsi and how the rest of the ag park will fill out, but this was some interesting information from the NYT.
All in all this will be a good thing for Batavia. Hopefully the area will try to diversify and attract other industry to the area as a way to avoid what so many places are suffering from when one major industry decides to pack it in and leaves the community hanging.