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Foremost Farms USA sells Preston plant

Wisconsin State Farmer

Wisconsin's largest cheese manufacturer Foremost Farms USA has agreed to sell is Preston, Minn., manufacturing facility to Diversified Ingredients.

Foremost Farms USA

The final closing on the sale is expected to take place on or before Nov. 18, 2020.

Headquartered in Ballwin, Missouri, Diversified Ingredients provides products and services to the food ingredient, pet food, and feed industries. The new entity will be called Preston Protein Products and will be a joint venture between Diversified Ingredients and Johnson Farms, Inc. Lime Springs, Iowa. 

Built in 1924, the Preston plant offers milk separation, condensing and drying services for organic dairy fluid and ingredient marketers.

Foremost Farms primarily focuses its whey products in the infant formula markets. However, the Preston plant is not set up to meet the demanding requirements of this customer base. Preston is best suited to serve smaller market segments (e.g., organic), as well as to manufacture specialized products that require smaller volumes. Foremost Farms is not well positioned to serve these markets.

“Manufacturing footprints continually evolve and change,” said Greg Schlafer, Foremost Farms President & CEO. “While it’s difficult to see employees leave the cooperative, an owner focused on building on Preston’s established capabilities offers the best opportunity for the plant and its workers,” he said.

Schlafer says the company invested in the plant three years ago, updating the dryer. He said the upgrade will be important going forward making the plant a viable specialty drying operation with Diversified Ingredients.

The Preston plant employed 20 workers. Diversified Ingredients says it plans to transition all current Preston Foremost Farms employees to its organization.