Factory to turn cheese whey into nutrient-rich animal feed

By Ryn Gargulinski: Freedom Newspapers

Mesa Ingredient Company is coming to Clovis with a bang, according to the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation.
Mesa’s main operation is turning the liquid byproduct of cheese — commonly known as whey — into a nutrient-rich powder used in animal feed. Mesa’s factory, which has already broken ground, will be located near the Southwest Cheese plant and “feed” off of its byproducts from the production of an estimated 250 million pounds of cheese each year.
Not only will the Mesa project create 30 new jobs at the facility once it’s open for business in the next six to eight months, it will be pouring huge amounts of cash into the economy, promoters said.
“It’s 30 additional jobs, it’s a good fit with the Southwest Cheese plant, it’s a win-win situation for the cheese plant, and it’s a win-win situation for Clovis,” said Chase Gentry, director of the Clovis Industrial Development Corp. “Most of all it brings in some high-paying jobs with benefits to the area.”
The average wage will be $13 per hour, plus benefits, said officials at CIDC.
Gentry said Mesa did not yet announce how to apply for any of the positions.
“Clovis has been one of the economic bright spots in our efforts to create high-wage jobs, especially in rural New Mexico,” Gov. Bill Richardson said. “While saving Cannon Air Force Base from closing is our top priority, we must keep that economic momentum going.”
Gov. Richardson estimated the impact on the Clovis community will total $6 million over the next decade.
With an initial investment of $11 million to be spent in the first six months, Mesa will be investing $15 million in buildings, infrastructure and equipment costs over the next five years, said CIDC.
A hefty $44 million is expected to be generated in direct and indirect salaries over the next 20 years and nearly $4 million in new tax revenue for New Mexico through gross receipts and payroll taxes, CIDC reported.
“They’re going to be a very good partner with Clovis and Curry County,” Gentry said. “They have a strong community involvement and will make a good addition to our community.”
Mesa Ingredient Corp.’s parent company, International Ingredient Corporation, is based in St. Louis. They service major feed and pet food manufacturers, livestock and poultry integrators in the United States as well as major feed importers and distributors in Latin America, Canada, Asia and Europe, according to the company’s Web site.
Southwest Cheese is a joint venture with Glanbia, Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers, and is expected to produce 16.5 million pounds of whey protein per year, according to the Southwest Web site.
Mesa Ingredient Corp. may be followed by more cheese plant spinoffs in the immediate future, Gentry said. “We’re still working with two other companies but they have not made any formal announcement.”