BLOOMINGTON - Staying focused on maximizing members' returns helped Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) achieve positive results in 2011. Leaders announced Monday the dairy marketing cooperative owned by 3,000 Upper Midwest dairy farmers achieved sales of $2 billion last year, according to a press release from AMPI.
Though weak milk volume challenged all dairy manufacturers in the region last year, the cooperative's diversified manufacturing network increased returns in key areas.
"Our cheese-packaging plant in Portage, Wis., and the New Ulm butter plant contributed stellar returns to the bottom line," AMPI President and CEO Ed Welch told some 400 delegates and guests gathered for the co-op's annual meeting at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Bloomington.
The 2011 performance marks the fifth consecutive year of growth in consumer-packaged butter and cheese. The cooperative's butter business increased 22 percent and packaged cheese sales climbed 43 percent in five years.
Operational highlights include:
A $7.5 million investment to purchase and install 18 technologically advanced cheese vats to improved production efficiency and cheese yield.
Cheddar cheese produced in Blair, Wis., and salted butter produced in New Ulm, received gold medals in the 2012 World Championship Cheese Contest. The competition attracted 2,500 entries from around the globe.
The co-op's three consumer-packaging plants achieved Safe Quality Food certifications; all 12 plants will have designation in 2012.
For the third consecutive year, the number of members earning the AMPI Milk Quality Award increased. More than 450 producers received the award for consistently achieving the cooperative's high milk standards.