Good for Growth: Southern Idaho is a Feast for Food Production
Well-known food manufacturers in Southern Idaho are pleasing palates.
Many of your favorite foods, from the yogurt and cheese in your fridge to the French fries in your freezer to the energy bar at the bottom of your purse or gym bag, all have something in common.
They are all products of Southern Idaho’s dynamic food industry.
The region’s diverse food sector is an economic and employment powerhouse, generating nearly half of Idaho’s agribusiness receipts. The region ranks fourth in the nation for milk production and third for cheese production. It is also one of four regions in the country to earn the prestigious federal Manufacturing Community designation for the dairy industry.
Meanwhile, employers, such as Scoular, Clif Bar & Company and NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics, invest millions of dollars in new facilities and create jobs that allow residents to stay in – or even move back to – the communities they love.
Opportunity At Home
“I grew up nearby, got an MBA and never thought I’d be able to be back home,” says Derek Bedke, site manager of NewCold’s new $90 million, 80,000-square-foot facility in Burley. The fully automated facility opened in September 2019 and is one of the nation’s largest cold storage warehouses.
The facility uses leading-edge technology to remotely move and store products in its dark, high-bay warehouse. Foods are stored at an extremely low temperature. For fire safety, oxygen levels are reduced, as well.
NewCold’s facility has 76 full-time employees, most of whom are from the surrounding area.
“My management team, they’re all local to this area. One moved back from New York and has family in Burley,” Bedke says. “This community has such a draw. Once we bring great jobs, it brings people back to where they want to live. Everybody loves what this area has to offer.”
NewCold, which has operations internationally, constructed the Burley cold storage facility to support the logistics needs of McCain Foods, the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen French fries and potato specialties. McCain Foods completed a $200 million expansion of its processing plant in Burley in 2019.
Clif Bar & Company employs more than 300 people at its Twin Falls bakery, and it’s first owned and operated bakery. The facility uses large amounts of organic ingredients to produce Clif Bars and other products.
“Southern Idaho provides an ideal location for our bakery, as fueling outdoor adventures is part of our DNA. Our team members have access to mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and many other activities within minutes of our location. Supporting an active, healthy workforce is part of our’ people aspiration,'” says Dale Ducommun, bakery general manager.
All team members at Clif Bar & Company have the opportunity to advance in their careers. The firm offers internships, tuition reimbursement and apprenticeships with paid learning opportunities to help people improve their skills, he says.
Other producers in the region include Idaho Milk Products, which processes more than 1.1 billion pounds of milk every year; Agropur, a major cheese producer; Chobani, the maker of yogurt and other dairy products; and whey products; Glanbia Nutritionals, which makes cheese Lamb Weston, one of the world’s largest producers of frozen potato products; and Amalgamated Sugar, a sugar beet refining company.
New Jobs, New Market
Scoular is expanding operations in Jerome to manufacture a new, sustainable plant-based alternative protein made from barley. The 15,000-square-foot facility will manufacture a product called barley protein concentrate for use in aquaculture feed and pet food.
The building will be constructed near Scoular’s existing livestock feed ingredients facility in Jerome. The operation is expected to create 13 jobs and begins manufacturing in May 2021.
In addition to new jobs, the expansion creates a new market for local barley growers.
“Initial plant capacity, which we intend to grow, will require about 12,000 acres of barley production. We feel this is a brick-and-mortar investment to create a new market (for the region’s farmers),” says JC Olson, product group manager for Scoular.
If you’d like to learn more about the Southern Idaho area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Southern Idaho.