'Project Dairy' could create 230 jobs at former Müller Quaker site

A massive plant in Batavia once used to make yogurt would be revived under a $205-million plan by a large unnamed diary operator promising to create 230 jobs, according to documents with the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

"Project Dairy" would kick start the former Müller Quaker Dairy plant, which closed at the end of 2015 after a joint yogurt venture between PepsiCo and Germany's Theo Müller Group ended due to weak sales.

About 200 people were employed at the 360,000-square-foot site facility in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. State and economic officials announced at the time that the Dairy Farmers of America would purchase the site.

It was not immediately clear if that deal was ever finalized, or if the Dairy Farmers of America are selling their interest. Genesee County Economic Development Center officials did not immediately return a request seeking comment.

Empire State Development President and CEO Howard Zemsky confirmed in a statement to the Democrat and Chronicle Friday that discussions are underway with "one of the county's largest branded dairy operators as it considers acquiring" the site.

"This is, of course, is exciting news for the region and the dairy industry," he said. "We will have no further comment on this project until the company has completed its due diligence and has made a decision on its potential acquisition of the facility."

The $205-million plan filed with the Genesee County Economic Development Center calls for the addition of a 100,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse along with other infrastructure improvements and equipment purchases.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) said in a statement that a deal for the site with a new company with deep local roots was close.

"All the ingredients are here: Ample milk supply, a top-notch work force, and a state-of-the-art facility made possible by critical infrastructure investments to the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park," he said. "We're near the finish line."

The Müller Quaker Dairy plant opened in the spring of 2013 and was a linchpin in the yogurt boom for New York's dairy farmers, fueled in part by the spike in popularity of Greek yogurt.

A year earlier, Alpina Foods opened a smaller yogurt plant in 2012 at the business park.

The Müller Quaker Dairy plant was open for only 30 months before it was closed in December, 2015.

TCLAUSEN@Gannett.com

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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