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Alpina

January 24, 2019 - 5:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alpina, batavia, business, news, notify.

Some potential buyer of the now-shuttered Alpina property in the Genesee Valley Ag Park is going to pick up an ultramodern dairy plant for a relative song, according to the man tasked with finding a buyer.

And it will sell soon, said Aaron Morgenstern, managing director of Harry Davis & Company, the firm handling the real estate listing.

"It's an opportunity that doesn't come along often," Morgenstern said. "I would expect we'll soon find a buyer. I'm 100-percent confident that it will be sold soon and I'll be surprised if it's July 4 and we're still talking about who will buy the plant."

Harry Davis & Company specializes in valuing dairy companies and handling dairy plant and operations sales. The company helped in the sale of the former Muller Quaker Dairy plant in Batavia when HP Hood acquired it from Dairy Farmers of America.

Alpina acquired the land and built the plant for $20 million in 2012. Over the next six years, Alpina invested another $50 million in buying more land in the ag park, adding equipment, including equipment for liquid yogurt production, and adding onto the facility in anticipation of increased production.

The fully automated plant will help the company that acquires it control labor costs; at full capacity, Morgenstern would expect the plant to employ about 100 people.

"Our goal is to find a new operator who will bring jobs back to the area and grow the facility to its full capacity," Morgenstern said.

Morgenstern said he couldn't disclose the asking price for the plant but said it's substantially less than the $70 million that Alpina invested.

"The value proposition is that this an opportunity for somebody not currently in New York State to get into one of the premier milk sheds in the United States," Morgenstern said. "Or it's an opportunity for somebody in New York to continue to capture this milk shed with a brand-new ultramodern facility."

Morgenstern said he's received about three dozen inquiries about the property from serious potential buyers since the plant went on the market last week.

In 2012, Alpina, based in Colombia, received $767,096 in tax incentives to build its first U.S. plant in Batavia. A large portion of those tax incentives was in the form of a PILOT -- Payment In Lieu Of Taxes -- in which Alpina paid a fee in exchange for reduced taxes on the increase in assessed value of the property. The amount of taxes due to the increase in assessed value graduates upward over the years, from zero percent the first year, to about 50 percent today.

The assessed value of the property $168,000 (commercial properties are assessed differently than residential properties to account for the depreciation of commercial buildings). CORRECTION: When looking at assessments, we only looked at one parcel. There is another parcel that Alpina owns with an assessed value of $4.2 million.

Jim Krencik, spokesman for the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said the GCEDC board has the option, under the PILOT agreement, to adjust the agreement, or even cancel the PILOT, to increase the tax bill to 100 percent of assessed value.

A potential pitfall of canceling the PILOT is that a new owner would not be eligible for a continued tax abatement. The board keeps the PILOT in place but adjusts the taxable amount, another company could get a new PILOT agreement. A canceled PILOT agreement potentially makes the property less marketable.

The Batavian contacted four of the five current GCEDC board members and all said they wanted to reserve comment on the status of the PILOT until they had more information.

The board doesn't meet again until February and the time period for making a decision about the future of the PILOT is February and March.

"As we move forward with the site, I’m keeping in mind that any decision regarding the PILOT is within a larger effort to continue to bring more capital investment and job growth at the Alpina site, the Ag Park and Genesee County," Krencik said.

If the amount of taxes due under the PILOT were adjusted, it wouldn't take effect until the tax years for municipalities and school districts, and if Morgenstern's prediction of a quick sale is correct, the issue would become moot.

When Muller Quaker sold its $200 million plant to DFA, DFA didn't immediately decide what to do with the plant and it sat vacant for more than a year. In that case, the GCEDC board adjusted the PILOT and DFA paid more than $655,000 in additional taxes to local governments in 2017. When HP Hood acquired the plant, the PILOT benefits were extended to Hood.

January 18, 2019 - 5:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alpina, news, business, notify, GCEDC.

Press release:

“The Genesee County Economic Development Center in collaboration with our many public and private sector partners celebrated in bringing Alpina Foods to Genesee County in 2011. Unfortunately, due to the loss of a co-packaging contract, Alpina Foods has made a decision to close its operations at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

“While this is extremely disappointing news, the GCEDC will be diligent in marketing and promoting the facility to other agricultural businesses. This was similar to our approach in marketing and promoting a former yogurt manufacturing site, which resulted in bringing HP Hood to our community and with it, further economic investment and eventually the hiring of hundreds of employees.

“We are confident that we will have similar success with the Alpina Foods facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

“In the meantime, the GCEDC will work with our public and private sector partners to assist displaced workers in any capacity we can.”

September 20, 2018 - 9:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alpina, batavia, news.

A natural gas leak has been reported at Alpina Foods on Ag Park Drive, Batavia.

The building has been evacuated.

Town of Batavia fire dispatched.

National Fuel has been notified. No ETA.

May 6, 2016 - 9:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alpina, business, batavia, gcdec, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for an application for assistance from Alpina Foods, Inc., at its May 5 board meeting.

Alpina Foods, Inc., will add 3,200 square feet to its existing facility in the Town of Batavia to accommodate space for a bottle-filling machine and packaging equipment for a new drinkable yogurt product.

The facility’s expansion will result in the creation of four new jobs and the retention of 23 current full-time employees. Based on the success of the product line and other growth opportunities there is the potential for the creation of additional new jobs at Alpina.

The company was approved for a sales tax exemption of $15,405 and a property tax exemption of $62,903. The project’s planned capital investment will total an estimated $1.1 million.

“It is exciting to see Alpina adding a new yogurt product to the marketplace that is being made right here in Genesee County,” said Christopher Suozzi, vice president of Business Development at the GCEDC.

“The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park is an important community asset and continued investment and expansion there will only help us market the site to other food processing and food manufacturing companies.”

May 3, 2016 - 8:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, news, Alpina, GCEDC, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider an expansion project for Alpina Foods, Inc., at its May 5 board meeting.

Alpina Foods, Inc., is planning to construct a 3,200-square-foot addition to its existing facility in Batavia to accommodate space for a new bottle-filling machine and packaging equipment for a new drinkable yogurt product.

The company’s investment will total more than $1.1 million in the drinkable yogurt line, resulting in the retention of 23 current full-time employees.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the first floor, across from Genesee Community College.

April 28, 2015 - 9:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in United Way, sports, Alpina.

Press release:

The United Way of Genesee County is pleased to announce the formation of the Genesee County Race Series. The event is a collaboration between the United Way and six local 5K events and will culminate with the annual Runner of the Year Award.

Runners will be required to participate in at least three events to be eligible for awards. The top four race results will be counted toward an individual's ranking. Cash awards ($300 for first, $150 for second and $50 for third) will be presented to the top three male and female runners. In addition, awards will be presented to the top three runners in each age group (overall winners will not be eligible for age group prizes). There will also be awards given to individuals who participate in all six races. Awards will be presented at a year-end banquet in October.

According to United Way of Genesee County Director Erik Fix, “The United Way believes in building a better community through education, income and health. The Race Series is just one way we can help build a healthy community. We are excited to partner with six great local races to create the series. Our goal is to quickly grow to 10 races by 2017.”

The vision for the series is to draw more people to each event and getting more people out to participate.

“We hope the additional prizes including a cash prize will help to draw some quality racers and their families and friends to Genesee County,” Fix said.

The series will begin with the UMMC Spring Sprint 5K on May 9 and culminate with the ARC Friends and Family 5K on Sept. 26.

The six races are:

  • May 9 -- UMMC Spring Sprint 5K
  • May 29 -- Genesee Cancer Assistance Festival of Hope 5K
  • July 4 -- Kiwanis Independence Day 5K
  • Aug. 15 -- Don Carroll Toys for Kids 5K
  • Sept. 7 -- Jaycees Labor Day 5K
  • Sept. 26 -- ARC Friends and Family 5K

The series is being sponsored by Alpina Foods. The yogurt company will be present with sample products at each event. The series is open to individuals of all ages regardless of where they reside. Series registration is not necessary. By registering for an individual race you are automatically qualified for the series. For full series details please check out the United Way of Genesee County Web site www.uwgeneseecounty.org

March 30, 2015 - 2:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Press release:

Alpina Foods announced today they are launching the first-ever line of yogurt infused with real coffee called Alpina Café Selections. The new lineup includes Mocha, Caramel Macchiato, Vanilla Latte, and Coffee. The combination of smooth creamy Greek yogurt and the robust bold taste of real coffee makes Alpina Café Selection a perfect addition to anyone's morning or afternoon routine.

The line of Alpina Café Selections – different than anything that can be found on the market today -- uses real Colombian coffee and not "coffee flavoring" found in the dairy aisle. An excellent source of calcium, Café Selections also includes protein and caffeine and, at only 120 calories per cup, they provide a great option for breakfast or afternoon snack break.

"Thirty-four percent of Americans drinks coffee, higher than soda consumption. Specialty coffee makes up a large percentage of this growth, which is why we decided to launch Alpina Café Selections," said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods' general manager. "We are always looking to innovate in the dairy aisle. Once we found a recipe that tasted just like the consumer's favorite flavor and were able to include actual Colombian coffee, we knew we had a unique product the consumer would want and enjoy."

An alternative to sugary snacks and drinks, Alpina Café Selections are high in protein (12 grams) and calcium (20 percent), have 0 grams of fat, and provide 30-50 mg of caffeine (the equivalent to about half a cup of coffee) – perfect choice to help power anyone through their day.

Alpina Café Selections is sold in select regional and independent retailers including, ShopRite, Shaw's, Fairway Markets and Lowe's Markets, with plans to expand its distribution this summer; follow @alpinaUSA for updates.

Alpina Foods manufactures a variety of dairy products available in retailers throughout the United States, including Wal-Mart, Shaw's, Wegmans Food Markets, ShopRite, Duane Reade, Western Beef, and other national, regional, and independent food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpinaus.com.

March 9, 2015 - 5:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Press release:

Alpina NBA All-Stars Yogurt is just 120 calories, four grams of protein and 10 percent of an adult's recommended daily allowance of calcium per serving. The perfectly proportioned toppings add a little "dunking" fun while appealing to basketball fans of all ages — men and women, alike. It's a yogurt that can help anyone power through the day. 

"Alpina Foods is committed to bringing innovation to the dairy aisle," said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods' general manager. "We saw a need for a product that catered to the American male — youth or adult — in the yogurt section, and we decided to take the challenge and introduce this NBA All-Stars product."

Alpina NBA All-Stars Yogurt is sold in select regional and independent retailers including A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum's, Super Fresh, The Food Emporium, ShopRite, Shaw's, and Lowe's Markets.

Alpina Foods manufactures a variety of dairy products available in retailers throughout the United States, including Shaw's, Wegmans Food Markets, ShopRite, Duane Reade, Western Beef, and other national, regional, and independent food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpinaus.com.

UPDATE: In response to our question, a spokeswoman for Alpina says the new product will be manufactured at the Batavia plant, and, there's another new product announcement coming later this month.

October 14, 2014 - 9:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Alpina.

Alpina Foods today informed 32 employees that their services will no longer be needed.

Each employee received a letter that blamed the layoffs on the cancellation of a contract by a "principle customer" on Oct. 10.

The letter informs employees they are being terminated effective Oct. 19 and tells them they will receive all earned wages and benefits and will be eligible through the Department of Labor for benefits, job training and job search assistance.

The Batavian received a copy of the termination letter from a source and requested confirmation of the layoffs from Alpina.

The following response was attributed to Gustavo Badino, U.S. general manager for Alpina Foods:

Alpina Foods confirms that the company will be reducing the workforce at its Western New York yogurt plant in October, in response to the early termination of one of our principle contracts.

Alpina Foods remains committed to Batavia and Western New York and views this current workforce reduction as a temporary but necessary approach to address mediate business challenges facing the company in the short term.

February 3, 2014 - 10:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Local Greek yogurt maker Alpina has entered the national television yogurt wars with a series of commercials meant to entertain and inspire.

While industry leaders Chobani and Dannon dish out big bucks to debut commercials during the Super Bowl (including a both praised and panned spot from Dannon for Oikos Greek yogurt featuring the former cast of Full House, and Chobani's ad with Bob Dylan and a bear), Alpina held of until today the release of its new ads.

Press release from Alpina:

The new campaign focuses on individuals facing their challenges head on, or as we like to say “climbing their mountains.” Maybe your mountain is to run a 10k or graduate from college. The point is we all have mountains to climb. So satisfy your taste for the top with Alpina Greek Yogurt, it's encouragement by the spoonful. Alpina. Climb Your Mountain.

The ads will run in select areas in the Northeast, including Western New York, and will feature digital and radio advertisements. Western NY can also look forward to seeing our ads on TV and area buses. To complement the campaign, Alpina is offering a free trial to those who share their mountain with us through a link in our digital ads.

December 2, 2013 - 3:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Press release:

Alpina is expanding their two popular Greek yogurt lines with the addition of new flavor varieties. The new flavors enhance the company’s line of all-natural yogurts that are created using an authentic straining process, and are the combination of the simplest ingredients: milk, active bacteria cultures, and fruit.

Alpina Greek yogurt line will now offer three new flavor varieties: Pineapple, Raspberry, and Key Lime Pie. The Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola line welcomes Pineapple with Tropical Chia Granola, Raspberry with Super Foods Granola, and Black Cherry with Super Foods Granola.

All new flavor varieties for both Alpina Greek and Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola lines will be available in select stores beginning December 2013.

Alpina Foods’ Alpina Greek is an all-natural, authentically strained Greek yogurt made entirely from natural ingredients with no artificial thickeners or flavoring and up to one third less sugar than leading competitors. Alpina Greek is a fruit-on-the-bottom style yogurt available in nine flavors: blueberry, strawberry, vanilla bean, mango, peach, and now available in key lime pie, pineapple, and raspberry.

Alpina Foods’ Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola yogurt line is the same all-natural, authentically strained Greek yogurt but comes paired with certified gluten-free granola mix-ins. The granolas are a unique, proprietary blend of nuts, grains, and seeds created by a health and wellness chef and prepared by Udi’s Gluten Free.

Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas is available in nine flavors: blueberry with almond berry granola, strawberry with almond berry granola, vanilla bean with chai spices granola, honey with chai spices granola, mango with tropical chia granola, peach with tropical chia granola, plain with superfoods granola, and now available in pineapple with tropical chia granola, raspberry with super foods granola, and black cherry with super foods granola.

“Expanding our Greek yogurt lines allows us to continue satisfying the consumers growing demand for healthy and wholesome, all-natural yogurt options,” says Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods’ General Manager. “The holiday season is the perfect time for us to be adding several new and exciting flavor varieties to our already extensive product line as consumers are seeking out snacks that are fulfilling and indulgent without the guilt.”

Alpina brand yogurts are currently available in a wide variety of retailers throughout the U.S., including Wegmans Food Markets; Duane Reade; Delhaize Group stores Hannaford and Food Lion; as well as ShopRite and other national and regional food retailers. Alpina yogurts are distributed by KeHE Distributors, Lipari Foods in the Midwest and Dora’s Naturals in New York. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpina.com.

October 3, 2013 - 6:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Yancey's Fancy, Alpina.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider at its Oct. 3 board meeting final resolutions for tax exemptions related to Yancey’s Fancy’s new processing facility and an expansion project proposed by Alpina Foods.

Yancey’s Fancy is seeking sales tax and mortgage tax exemptions and a property tax abatement to build a new facility within the Buffalo East Technology Park (BETP) located in Pembroke. Yancey’s Fancy plans to purchase approximately 12 acres within the BETP and build a 112,000-square-foot facility. The company plans to keep its artisan cheese operation and retail store in the current location on 857 Main Road in Corfu, while operating the new processing facility for its other product lines.

Yancey’s Fancy currently has 108 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees and expects to add 50 more over three years after the certificate of occupancy is obtained for the new facility.

Alpina Foods is seeking approval of a final resolution for sales tax exemption valued at $40,000 related to its proposed expansion plan. Alpina is planning a $2.5 million investment in new production equipment and $500,000 in interior construction (furniture, fixtures, and non-manufacturing equipment). Associated with this expansion plan, Alpina has committed to adding an additional 15 full-time equivalent employees to its workforce over the next three years after completion of the expansion project.  

A leading South American dairy products company, Alpina Foods constructed its first U.S. manufacturing facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in 2011. The facility employs 50 full-time workers on site and has met initial job creation commitments ahead of schedule.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, second floor, across from Genesee Community College.

August 8, 2013 - 8:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Press release:

Artisan dairy manufacturer Alpina Foods teams up with Udi’s Gluten Free Foods, America’s leading gluten-free brand, to provide wholesome, certified gluten-free granola for its Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola brand Greek yogurt.

“There’s just nothing like Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas in stores right now,” says Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods’ General Manager. “Partnering with Udi’s to prepare our proprietary blend of granolas helps us raise the bar for quality in the yogurt aisle, while also satisfying a niche in the market for a more fulfilling Greek yogurt option by offering consumers the only convenient, all-in-one yogurt and certified gluten-free-granola option.”

Established in 2008, Udi’s Gluten Free Foods has become a trusted brand for people seeking delicious, certified gluten-free baked goods. The company’s reputation for nutritious and flavorful handcrafted granola makes it an ideal partner for Alpina Foods.

“We’re excited to partner with a company that’s just as committed to providing consumers with quality foods as we are,” says Denise Sirovatka, VP of Marketing. “Our partnership with Alpina Foods is the first of its kind for us, and we look forward to seeing the success of this new relationship.” 

Each unique granola blend was created by a health and wellness chef to be paired with the different flavor varieties of Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas. Udi’s will prepare the proprietary mix-ins at their certified-gluten free facility.

Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas will be available on store shelves in early August.   Flavors will include: Blueberry with Almond Berry granola, Strawberry with Almond Berry granola, Vanilla Bean with Chai Spice granola, Honey with Chai Spice granola, Mango with Tropical Chia granola, Peach with Tropical Chia granola, and Plain with Superfoods granola.

Alpina brand yogurts are currently available in a wide variety of retailers throughout the U.S., including Wegmans Food Markets; Duane Reade; Delhaize Group store Hannaford; Sweetbay; other national and regional food retailers. Alpina yogurts are distributed by Lipari Foods in the Midwest and Dora’s Naturals in New York. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpina.com.

July 12, 2013 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Alpina.

Press release:

Alpina Foods has confirmed its intent to purchase 10 acres of land adjacent its brand-new plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. The acquisition doubles the company’s footprint, and comes only nine months after the grand opening of its 40,000-square-foot, $20-million facility that specializes in Greek yogurt production.

Alpina selected the site to build its first-ever North American manufacturing facility in 2011, after researching locations throughout the country. Company leaders felt the highly skilled Western New York workforce, thriving local dairy industry, and convenient access to major U.S. markets made Batavia an optimal location. The site is Alpina’s 10th global manufacturing facility, following locations in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

“This purchase reinforces our commitment to Batavia,” said Gustavo Badino, general manager of Alpina Foods. “We intend to expand here, and maintain this operation as our primary U.S. manufacturing location.”

The company already employs 55 at the plant, exceeding the goal of 50 the company committed to hiring by 2014, and expects to bring in additional team members in the coming months as production continues to increase.

Alpina will lay out its plans for the land over the next 24 months. Company leaders have worked closely with the Genesee County Economic Development Center, as well as the State’s Excelsior Jobs Program and numerous other state and regional economic development organizations in establishing – and expanding – its presence in New York State.

Alpina Foods is committed to its presence in Batavia, and works with many community organizations to make a positive impact on the region. Through the company’s philosophy of “collective prosperity,” Alpina strives to deliver success beyond its business dealings and constantly improve the community in which it operates.

“We are committed to our success in Batavia and the U.S.,” Badino said. “It is our corporate practice to grow with our surroundings, hand-in-hand with our neighbors.”

June 26, 2013 - 2:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Press release:

In direct response to exploding consumer demand for Greek yogurt as well as the company’s continued commitment to expansion in the U.S. market, Alpina Foods is introducing a brand new Greek yogurt, and will be changing the name of its entire portfolio of Greek products to create a more cohesive brand identity.

Alpina Foods’ Alpina Greek, an all-natural, authentically strained Greek yogurt, is made entirely from natural ingredients and uses no artificial thickeners or flavoring. Alpina Greek will be introduced later this month available in six flavors: blueberry, strawberry, vanilla bean, mango, peach, and black cherry.

In addition to introducing its new yogurt, Alpina will rename its Alpina Revive Greek yogurt as Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas which comes packaged with certified gluten-free granola mix-ins that were created by a health and wellness chef and are prepared by Udi’s Gluten Free. 

Both products are created using an authentic straining process, and are the combination of the simplest ingredients: milk, active bacteria cultures, and fruit.

Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas will be available in seven flavors: blueberry with almond berry granola, strawberry with almond berry granola, vanilla bean with chai spices granola, honey with chai spices granola, mango with tropical chia granola, peach with tropical chia granola, and plain with superfoods granola.

“We made the decision to change the brand architecture of Alpina yogurts to increase the presence of our products on store shelves and simplify our portfolio,” said Gustavo Badino, Alpina Foods’ general manager. “We believe this expansion will be received well in the marketplace as consumers are continually searching for unique and exciting Greek yogurt options that are delicious and healthy.”

Alpina brand yogurts are currently available in a wide variety of retailers throughout the U.S., including Wegmans Food Markets; Ahold USA brand stores: Stop & Shop, Giant Landover and Giant Carlisle; Delhaize Group stores Hannaford and Sweetbay; Tops Friendly Markets; Duane Reade; and other national and regional food retailers. For a full list of retailers, visit www.alpinaus.com.

Alpina Greek yogurts will be available in late June with Alpina Greek with Artisan Granolas following in late July. Retailers interested in carrying Alpina yogurts can contact Alpina Foods at [email protected].

About Alpina Foods

Alpina Foods is the U.S. arm of Alpina, which was established in 1945 by two Swiss entrepreneurs and visionaries who brought their families’ traditions and cultural expertise to South America. The company markets a wide range of artisan dairy products to the American Hispanic market, as well as mainstream brands Alpina Greek and Alpina Greek with Artisan Granola yogurts, Alpina Bon Yurt low-fat yogurt, and Juan Valdez Café Latte.

Alpina is proud to be a consumer-centric and environmentally friendly company that embraces the philosophy of collective prosperity, or encouraging success within the company, in its neighboring communities, and in the world.

May 30, 2013 - 2:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, environment, Alpina.

You can make Greek yogurt at home. About all you need is some yogurt culture, a whisk and cheese cloth.

After you strain your batch you're left with a watery white liquid known as whey. You will have about three ounces of whey for every ounce of yummy yogurt.

One Web site lists 18 possible uses for whey in your home, whether as a substitute for other liquids in cooking or as a skin care product. But for Alpina, which produces 245,000 tons of Greek yogurt a week, getting rid of the 455,000 tons of whey a week isn't that simple.

Right now, the whey is hauled to a facility in Wyoming County where it is digested into methane and used to generate electricity, but Alpina is exploring other options for dealing with whey.

Whey has become controversial in media reports over the past week or so. It started with a well-researched and reported story in Modern Farmer about the Greek yogurt boom with an unfortunate headline, given the substance of the story: Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side.

The story was far from frightening, but outlets such as Fox News and USA Today turned it into overblown headlines such as Toxic waste from Greek yogurt poses danger to waterways and Greek yogurt's dirty little secret.

What's this dark side, this toxic danger, this dirty little secret? 

If whey goes into a stream or lake, bacteria will boom and suck all the oxygen out of the water, killing all the fish.

But there are no reports of any whey from Greek yogurt being illegally dumped. In fact, the Modern Farmer story details both the responsible methods for disposing of it now and explores research into other possible uses.

Disposing of whey in a responsible manner is important to Alpina, said Roger Parkhurst, director of operations for the Batavia plant.

Labeling whey "toxic waste" is the kind of statement that could be said about a lot of substances, Parkhurst said.

"You could apply the term to gasoline," Parkhurst said. "We put it in our car and it's beneficial, but if it's abused it becomes a dangerous material. We handle whey right and in a responsible manner so that it isn't a danger."

Beneficial uses for whey include converting it to an energy source -- which Alpina does now -- or using it to supplement cattle feed, which Alpina is also exploring.

Alpina would love to sell its whey, so that the money spent to haul it off can instead become a source of revenue. A Cornell researcher is studying methods for turning whey into a baby formula supplement. That work is promising, Parkhurst said.

Whey could also become a direct energy source for the Alpina plant, saving the company money. 

Parkhurst said the company is interested -- though has no specific plans -- in finding a way to digest whey on site and convert the methane into electricity and convert the heat from the process into heat for Alpina's building.

Mark Masse, vp of operations for Genesee County Economic Development Center, said companies have contacted the agency about building a digester at or near the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, including working directly with Alpina, but it has never received a formal application.

"I am not sure why any of those projects haven’t moved forward yet," said Masse in an e-mail response to a question, "but my best guess is that they can’t secure a long-term contract for the waste product, and/or that these digester projects are very capital intensive and they usually try to secure NYSERDA grants to help defer these capital costs to shorten the payback period of the project and can’t secure those grants."

There are also concerns about any environmental risks associated with a digester located at a food processing park that sits above an aquifer.

Experts have told Masse, he said, that whey needs to be mixed with animal waste to be properly digested and any company proposing such a project would have to prove it could be done in a safe manner.

"We never got far enough along with any of the digester companies to have this conversation with them in depth or with our board," Masse said. "That issue would have to be discussed at length if any company wished to use animal waste in their process, and our board would have to approve it."

One local farmer has contacted Alpina about obtaining whey to mix with cattle feed, Parkhurst said. The farmer said he checked with Cargill, which provided him with a formula for mixing whey with his feed and now he would like to find out how to get his hands on some Alpina whey.

"That's just one farmer and he's not capable of taking on the whole thing," Parkhurst said. "But if it helps his business and it helps our business at least some, I would be more than happy to participate."

Alpina is actively exploring all options for whey waste, Parkhurst said, looking for the most economically sensible and environmentally sound solution.

"We've even worked a little bit with RIT and GCC," Parkhurst said. "There is money floating around to help research any practical application."

A local operation that may be able to take on all of Alpina's whey waste is Baskin Livestock.

Baskin, as we've reported before, specializes in taking food company waste and converting it into cattle feed.

Bill Baskin is eager to explore a partnership with Alpina to bring whey waste to his plant on Creek Road in Bethany. 

"We work with food producers all over the Northeast to get rid of their waste," Baskin said. "There’s no reason we can't do it right in our own back yard."

With any food production, there is a substantial amount of waste -- batches get mixed wrong, products are spilled or spoiled or unsold product goes bad. Baskin takes all that waste, dries, grinds it and turns it into cattle feed.

Quaker-Muller is already sending some of its product waste to Baskin, but the way the plant will make yogurt -- the Quaker-Muller plant officially opens Monday -- there is no whey waste.

"Our yogurt is consistently high quality because we add milk protein from strained milk to our yogurt to deliver the same delicious texture and taste every time," said Scott Gilmore, spokesman for PepsiCo.

Until recently, Baskin and Parkhurst hadn't spoken, but yesterday, Baskin's director of business development, Peter Klaich, met briefly with Parkhurst and Parkhurst said he's certainly interested in learning more about how Baskin can help with whey waste.

Parkhurst is proud that Alpina buys almost all of its raw ingredients from farmers in Genesee County and WNY. The potential of working with Baskin fits right in with that philosophy, Parkhurst said.

"We're always interested in working with local companies," Parkhurst said.

April 24, 2013 - 9:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Press Release:

Artisan dairy manufacturer Alpina Foods has announced its Alpina Revive Greek yogurts are now available at another major regional supermarket retailer. Wegmans Food Markets, one of the largest private companies in the U.S., has been recognized as an industry leader and innovator, with stores across New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The family-owned company, which has been on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list every year since its inception in 1998, has begun selling Alpina Revive Greek Yogurts at all their locations.

“We’re excited to continue to expand the availability of our products with retailers like Wegmans, who truly appreciate providing the best to their customers,” said Alpina Foods’ General Manager, Gustavo Badino. “The recent opening of our latest yogurt facility in Upstate New York has enabled us to greatly expand the availability of our yogurt and we’re thrilled to share our locally produced products with the region that has nurtured and supported our growth.”

Alpina Revive is an authentically strained, all-natural, and nonfat Greek yogurt that packs an impressive 14 grams of protein in every cup. It contains simple, natural ingredients such as milk and active yogurt cultures, is low in sugar and carbohydrates, and contains no artificial ingredients, sweeteners or flavors.

Each variety of Alpina Revive Greek yogurt is paired with a one-of-a-kind blend of gluten-free artisan granolas, crafted by a health & wellness chef to give consumers essential nutritional value for on-the-go lifestyles.  The four unique granola blends are prepared by Udi’s, the leading gluten-free baked goods company.

February 5, 2013 - 8:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Alpina.

Press Release

BATAVIA, N.Y. – Artisan dairy manufacturer Alpina Foods’ newest yogurt plant in Upstate, N.Y., has earned OU Kosher certification and has officially begun kosher manufacturing of Alpina Revive Greek yogurts and Alpina Bon Yurt traditional-style yogurts at the facility.

The OU rigorously monitors of all aspects of production. It supervises the process by which the food is prepared, examines the ingredients used to make the food, and regularly inspects the processing facilities to make sure that its standards are met.

“Our goal at Alpina is to produce and share healthy, wholesome foods with the world,” said Juan Pablo Fernandez, Alpina Foods General Manager. “Having kosher certified products enables us to continue in that goal and share our delicious, good-for-you products with even more people throughout the U.S.”

Alpina Revive is an authentically strained, all-natural and non-fat Greek yogurt that packs an impressive 14 grams of protein in every cup. It contains simple, natural ingredients such as milk and active yogurt cultures, is low in sugar, and contains no artificial ingredients, sweeteners or flavors. Each variety of Alpina Revive Greek yogurt is paired with a one-of-a-kind blend of gluten-free artisan granolas, crafted by a health & wellness chef to give consumers essential nutritional value for on-the-go lifestyles.  The four unique granola blends are manufactured by Udi’s, the leading gluten-free baked goods company.  

Alpina Bon Yurt is a creamy, low-fat vanilla yogurt that’s packed with calcium and eight grams of protein. Each variety of Alpina Bon Yurt is topped with timeless cereal favorites such as; frosted flakes, cocoa rice, fruit rings and cookie bits.

Alpina Revive Greek yogurts and are now available in a wide variety of retailers including Delhaize Group stores Hannaford and Sweetbay; Tops Friendly Markets; Gristedes; Morton Williams; Duane Reade; and other national and regional food retailers.

Consumers may also find Alpina Bon Yurt yogurts at the following retailers; Food lion, Hannaford, and Sweetbay.  For a complete list of retailers for all Alpina products, please visit please visit www.alpina.com.

September 24, 2012 - 11:14pm
posted by Rick D. Franclemont in batavia, business, Alpina.

Alpina Foods officially opened its yogurt-making plant in Batavia's new ag-park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour Monday afternoon, which was attended by local dignitaries and state lawmakers.

Truck unloading station

Alpina Foods office

Quality control lab

Batch blending room

Fermentation and culturing room

Cup-filling machine

September 24, 2012 - 5:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Alpina.

Big event in Batavia today that I wish I could have attended and covered -- the grand opening of the Alpina yogurt plant. We did assign a photographer and should have more coverage later, but meanwhile, here's the official photo and press release from Alpina:

Alpina Foods today celebrated the official Grand Opening of its first North American manufacturing facility, the latest yogurt plant to open in Upstate New York. Though the 67-year-old company has sold its broad line of dairy products in American markets for several years, the Batavia, N.Y. facility is its first plant in the U.S.     

Joined by U.S. Congresswoman Kathleen Hochul, New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, and Empire State Development President and CEO Kenneth Adams, top officials from Alpina Foods and its Colombian parent company, Alpina, marked the occasion with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“This is a momentous day for Alpina,” said Julian Jaramillo, Alpina’s CEO. “We would like to recognize the many people and organizations across the state that have helped make this moment a reality. We are excited to get started and continue to grow along with our employees, the region, and the yogurt industry in New York.”

The Alpina Foods plant already employs 30 new employees, and expects to hire at least 20 additional team members in the coming months. This is in addition to the 20 employees located in Alpina Foods’ Miami offices and in regional positions elsewhere in the U.S.

Over the past year, with the help of co-packing partners, the company has launched several new products for U.S. consumers: Alpina Revive Greek yogurt, Alpina Restart traditional yogurt, Alpina Renew oat smoothie, Bon Yurt by Alpina low-fat vanilla yogurts, and Juan Valdez Café Latte by Alpina.

“Today’s opening of Alpina Foods marks an exciting new phase of economic development in Genesee County and Western New York,” said Rep. Hochul. “With the initial creation of up to 50 jobs, Alpina will significantly contribute to the economic vitality of the region. I look forward to working with Alpina, the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and local farms as we work to strengthen Western New York’s economy.”

"The State Legislature, working with Governor Cuomo, has made tremendous strides in improving New York State's business climate,” said Senator Ranzenhofer. “Especially during the last two budget cycles, the decision to cut spending and lower taxes has signaled to many companies that New York is the right place to do business, and for many yogurt companies, such as Alpina, it has positioned Genesee County and Batavia as the 'Yogurt Capital' of the world. I applaud Alpina for opening its first U.S. facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park."

Drawn by access to the thriving agriculture and dairy industry of Upstate New York, along with a ready labor market, Alpina chose Batavia for its 10th global manufacturing facility, following locations in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. The company worked closely with the State’s Excelsior Jobs Program and numerous state and regional economic development organizations on the location of the 10-acre site, and was further attracted to the region after its work with nearby Cornell University and Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the production of Greek yogurt has become a critical job creator and driver of economic activity in New York State,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams.  “A number of major yogurt manufacturers have taken advantage of this region’s existing infrastructure, including the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which is available for dairy processing, as well as its skilled workforce, proximity to milk supply and ability to reach target markets. We welcome Alpina Foods to the U.S. and are so proud that they have chosen to locate its first specialty yogurt plant in the U.S. right here in Genesee County.”

All Upstate New York residents are likely to appreciate Alpina Foods’ new location. The company is well known for its commitment to the communities in which it operates. With a philosophy that leadership refers to as “collective prosperity,” Alpina Foods wants to transfer success beyond the company, and positively impact the surrounding community, including their employees, business partners, the environment, and others in the region.

“We are committed to our success in Batavia and the U.S.,” said Alpina CEO Julian Jaramillo. “It is our corporate practice to grow with our surroundings, hand-in-hand with our neighbors.”

Photo, from left: Juan Pablo Fernandez, GM, Alpina Foods; Julian Jaramillo, CEO, Alpina; Roger Parkhurst, Director of Operations, Alpina Foods; Congresswoman Kathy Hochul; state Senator Michael Ranzenhofer; Kenneth Adams, President & CEO, Empire State Development.

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