Dairy farmer-owners gain co-op insight at annual meeting
NEW ULM, Minn. (March 22, 2016) — Growing milk production on AMPI member farms, along with increased orders from foodservice customers, combined to push sales for Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) to $1.7 billion in 2015. The annual business meeting of the cooperative owned by 2,200 Upper Midwest dairy farmers concludes tomorrow at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.
“Milk production on member farms grew 3 percent last year,” said Donn DeVelder, AMPI co-president and CEO, to some 300 annual meeting attendees. “The cooperative’s network of plants operated at capacity throughout much of the year, and total cheese production surpassed 430 million pounds.”
Mild Cheddar cheese produced at four AMPI manufacturing plant locations swept the competition at two national contests in 2015. “This recognition reaffirms the reputation of the quality milk produced on member farms and the skill of AMPI cheesemakers,” said Sheryl Meshke, co-president and CEO. “AMPI cheese is a premium product sought after by customers.”
Sales to foodservice customers now account for 78 percent of AMPI’s consumer-packaged cheese and butter sales, up 7 percent from 2014. Processed cheese production at the cooperative’s consumer-packaged cheese plant in Portage, Wis., set a new record in 2015 and sales climbed a whopping 17 percent.
A second year of high demand and record prices for cream and bulk butter made sourcing raw product challenging and placed downward pressure on returns from the cooperative’s butter-packaging plant in New Ulm, Minn. This, coupled with the financial impact following a December 2014 fire at the Portage plant, resulted in a $1.6 million loss for 2015.
AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen, a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn., delivered his annual address following a review of the co-op’s financial performance, providing insight into the steps taken by the co-op leaders in 2015.
“The AMPI board of directors and management team worked closely together to identify risks and opportunities for AMPI in the year ahead and beyond,” Schlangen said. “In 2016, we’re looking forward to rebuilding the area lost as a result of the fire at the Portage plant, increasing plant efficiencies to better serve the growing orders of foodservice customers. By balancing milk and manufacturing capabilities, we will achieve smart growth for AMPI into the future and maximize each member’s investment. We will grow with our members.”
The annual meeting culminates with delegates considering resolutions and reviewing the cooperative’s legislative priorities for the coming year.
AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by 2,200 Midwest dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI members annually market about 5.9 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $1.7 billion in sales for the cooperative.
AMPI owns 10 Midwest-based manufacturing plants where 10 percent of the nation’s American-type cheese, butter, dried whey and sliced American cheese is produced. The cooperative’s award-winning cheese, butter and powdered dairy products are marketed to foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers.