Farmer-owners review cooperative's performance at annual meeting
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (March 23, 2015) – Record dairy markets and a focus on the foodservice sector combined to push sales for Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) to $2.2 billion in 2014. Members of the milk marketing cooperative reviewed the company’s performance today during their annual business meeting held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.
“2014 was an incredible year in the dairy industry,” said Donn DeVelder, AMPI co-president and CEO, to some 400 annual meeting members and guests. “Historically high prices for cheese and butter — products which represented nearly 80 percent of the co-op’s total sales — meant record-high milk prices paid to our members.”
Milk production on AMPI member farms increased significantly in the fourth quarter. On-farm production was up more than 4 percent compared to 2013. Increased production kept the cooperative’s network of 10 manufacturing plants throughout the Midwest operating at full capacity.
AMPI sales to foodservice customers of processed cheese slices and loaves, and shredded natural cheese, rose 4 percent in 2014 and marked five years of consistent growth. This sector accounted for 85 percent of AMPI’s sales at its consumer-packaged cheese plant in Portage, Wis.
To concentrate on the growing area of sales, AMPI transitioned its retail-packaged cheese business to a longtime customer. This strategic move will enable AMPI to develop the Portage facility into a “super foodservice” plant. “We are redirecting floor space and capital to continue to grow AMPI’s foodservice business,” said Sheryl Meshke, AMPI co-president and CEO.
Despite strong sales and profitable operations, a year-end market drop significantly devalued product inventory. This, combined with losses from a December fire at the Portage plant, resulted in a $10 million loss for 2014.
Following a review of the co-op’s performance delivered to annual meeting attendees, AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen of Albany, Minn., outlined the cooperative’s new long-range, strategic plan.
“AMPI is defined by its members,” Schlangen said. “Our cooperative evolves because we do. Working together, AMPI members and employees are taking progressive steps to further define AMPI as the best milk market for Midwest dairy farmers.”
The annual meeting culminates with delegates considering resolutions and reviewing the cooperative’s legislative priorities for the coming year.
Additional AMPI 2014 highlights:
- 2,500 member farms produced 5.8 billion pounds of milk.
- AMPI processed milk and manufactured and packaged dairy products at 10 plants located throughout the Upper Midwest.
- The AMPI Board of Directors appointed longtime employees Donn DeVelder and Sheryl Meshke as co-presidents and CEOs.
- AMPI made about 10 percent of the nation’s butter, ranking it among the top five U.S. butter manufacturers.
- AMPI made nearly 10 percent of the nation’s American-type cheese. This includes Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Colby Jack and Pepper Jack.
- AMPI produced 10 percent of the nation’s dried whey.
- AMPI cheese and whey entries earned four first-place awards in the 2014 World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Products Contest.
AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by 2,500 Midwest dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI members annually market about 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $2.2 billion in sales for the cooperative. AMPI owns 10 manufacturing plants and markets cheese, butter and powdered dairy products, serving foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers.