Cheese and Whey Processing Plant Features State of the Art Technology

MWC’s huge greenfield facility will process 25% of Michigan’s milk supply. Joyce Fassl visited the new facility and reports back in this Take Five with ProFood World video on the advancements being made by MWC.


Quick hits: 

  • MWC is a joint venture of Glanbia, Select Milk, and Dairy Farmers of America
  • Plant receives 8 million pounds of raw milk per day 
  • Produces 850,000 lbs of cheese in 40-lb and 640-lb blocks per day.
  • Hygienic equipment and plant design ensures food safety
  • Pipe bridge transports permeate liquid to adjacent Proliant Dairy Ingredients plant

Related to this episode:

Listen to the story here:


   Read the transcript below:

Joyce Fassl: I'm Joyce Fassl, editor in chief of ProFood World, here today in St. Johns, Michigan. And behind me is the huge MWC facility with spans over nine acres. In 2018, Glanbia, Select Milk, and Dairy Farmers of America formed a joint venture. And these same partners have been operating Southwest Cheese in New Mexico since 2008.

More recently, they decided to build a facility here in Michigan. Located about 15 miles north of Lansing, the MWC plant receives 8 million pounds of raw milk per day. And from that, produces approximately 850,000 pounds of cheese in 40 pound and 640 pound blocks per day.

MWC also produces whey at approximately 11,000 pounds per hour, producing whey concentrate and isolates, which are packaged in 20 kilograms in bulk bags. Whey permeate leftover from the concentrate process is piped to a neighboring plant operated by Proliant. The whey permeate moves across a plate bridge for drawing on the world's largest permeate spray jar in North America.

Today, this 400,000 square foot greenfield facility with MWC, processes approximately 25% of the milk produced in Michigan. Complete filtration systems provided a solution to receive the raw milk and then coordinated building and utilities with Shambaugh & Son. The huge processing facility includes some of the largest equipment suppliers in the world, including Tetra Pak. Now, before we take an inside look at MWC in part two of my report, here's a short announcement from PMMI.

During my two day visit, I met with George Chappell, vice president of dairy operations for Glanbia Nutritionals, and David North, the senior site director. Here's what they had to say about the new plant.

George Chappell: As you should walk into this facility, there is a wow factor.

Joyce Fassl: The facility runs 24/7 every day of the year, and has 16 vats capable of making 10,000 pounds in each vat.

George Chappell: We will be the largest processor in Michigan on a single site.

David North: We have eight drive-through receiving bays, capable of receiving over 8 million pounds of milk, in any 24 hour period.

Joyce Fassl: In 24 hours, the plant makes 850,000 pounds of cheese. Here we see the receiving, cheese making, cheese packaging, and the whey processing area. Now we're moving on to the dryer and then into the whey packaging area. The plant's construction and engineering firm, Shambaugh & Son, optimized isle spaces, equipment locations, and floor slopes in its design. It put hub drains in the proper places and designed catch trays to prevent water from hitting the floor.

During CIP, as the valves pulse, the liquid goes straight to the hub drain. Without the use of 3D modeling, the project would have been challenged to make all the necessary utility and electrical connections, as well as process interconnecting piping details. The pipe bridge is designed to transport 95,000 pounds per hour of permeate liquid across to the adjacent pro-line facility, so the dairy ingredient company can turn it into permeate powder.

This is just a brief preview of what I'll be covering in depth for pro ProFood World's June issue. So look for the upcoming cover story on MWC and a special feature on Proliant in the June issue and on profoodworld.com.