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Where Is the “Silicon Valley of Food”?

Welcome to Twin Falls and Southern Idaho. This region has grown into a national leader in food production, processing and advancements.

By Kim Madlom on December 10, 2021

Idaho Milk Products
Jeff Adkins

The food industry in Twin Falls and Southern Idaho has grown into an economic success, thanks to an innovative mix of food production, processing and innovation.

Southern Idaho is just one of four regions in the U.S. to earn the Federal Manufacturing Community Designation in the “All Things Food” category from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The region is a leader in trout production and cheese processing and is home to a renowned yogurt company.

“Silicon Valley of Food”

In 2017, the strong economic growth in Southern Idaho led Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya to describe the region as the “Silicon Valley of food,” pointing to the wide range of food manufacturing plants that have invested
in food science since Chobani moved to the state. “It’s an ecosystem
generated for food making. There’s now a general knowledge
around food science that wasn’t there 10 years ago.”

Food Science Innovation

A number of food companies have established research facilities in Southern Idaho, where new breakthroughs in food are taking place. In addition to cheese processing, Glanbia Nutritionals also has a plant in the region dedicated to whey processing. It focuses on core research and solution development for whey proteins and milk minerals.

Chobani, which operates the world’s largest yogurt plant in Twin Falls, continues to innovate with its products. In June 2021, the company announced Chobani Zero Sugar*, a groundbreaking yogurt with only natural ingredients. The product is the first nationally distributed no-sugar product in the U.S. yogurt aisle.

Chobani is also innovating for its employees and the community. The company opened its Innovation and Community Center in Twin Falls in 2019. In May of 2021, Chobani and Fair Trade USA launched a groundbreaking certification program for U.S. dairy farms and cooperatives that provides financial premiums to dairy farmers and workers, which will help protect and empower them while raising sustainability standards.

The announcement is an outgrowth of Fair Trade USA’s partnership with Chobani, which announced its Milk Matters program in 2019 to further its commitment to support economic, environmental and social standards throughout the company’s milk supply chain. The fair trade certification program is available to milk producers throughout the U.S. Access to high-quality, local milk is among the reasons Chobani chose to build its second home in Southern Idaho more than a decade ago.

Clear Springs Foods
Michael Conti

Top Trout Producers Thrive

Southern Idaho is trout country, producing more than 70% of the nation’s food-size commercial trout. Clear Springs Foods produces more than 20 million pounds of rainbow trout each year. The Buhl-based company has operated fish farms in the area since 1966. In 2020, Riverence Holdings acquired Clear Springs, making the company the largest land-based producer of trout in the Americas.

Southern Idaho produces ideal conditions for raising rainbow trout. The spring water, climate and the workforce’s depth of knowledge and experience combine to make Clear Springs one of the leaders in aquaculture production. Sustainability is key to the company’s success. Fish are fed with responsibly sourced ingredients, and the company uses leftover fish parts to create its Clear Organic Fertilizer.

Kurt Mason, left, and Tim Cornie of 1,000 Springs Mill

Dairy Innovation in Southern Idaho

Other food producers in the region include 1,000 Springs Mill, which produces beans, popcorn, wheat berries, rice and other products.

In addition, the dairy industry has a significant footprint with cheese producers, including Glanbia and Commercial Creamery Co. The Milk Innovation Center established by Idaho Milk supports the industry with research and development to create new products and improve processing.

“The MIC takes our commitment to excellence to the next level,” says Ron Hayes, marketing manager for Idaho Milk Products. “We can support our customers from product concept and benchtop work through complete shelf-life evaluations, using our industry-leading ingredients. On our path to continuous improvement and dedication to our clients, the MIC is a giant leap forward. We anticipate continuing to share it with our customers as we work together to build their next product success story.”

“Idaho Milk Products’ fresh, highly functional milk ingredients are tailored to meet the desire to increase the protein load in RTD (Ready-to-Drink) beverages, yogurts, RTMs (Ready-to-Mix), weight management, and sports and adult nutrition products,” says Dr. Chenchaiah Marella, vice president of research and product development. “With state-of-the-art equipment in our Milk Innovation Center, we assure our customers are receiving expert help in formulating their products with quality ingredients in a timely manner and with confidence.”

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