By Marlena Hartz: Freedom Newspapers
Southwest Cheese received their first delivery of milk Tuesday, although by the end of the year it will only be operating at 30 percent of capacity, according Southwest Cheese Company Chief Executive Director Maurice Keane.
The plant received 65,000 pounds of milk Tuesday from local co-ops Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers, Inc., Keane said.
“We are in process of commissioning the plant — preparing it for staff and various production lines,” Keane said.
That process will go on until early 2006, Keane said.
“We will gradually start to commission different parts of the plant,” Keane said. “Today went well. It’s another positive step along the way to getting the plant up and running.”
Keane said the employees began to produce “trial” cheese Tuesday, but no Southwest Cheese products will be ready for sale until late October.
BY THE NUMBERS:
7 million: Pounds of milk the plant will receive daily once it reaches full capacity
400: Number of people on site Tuesday, including the construction crew
160: Number of Southwest cheese employees working Tuesday
40 pounds: The weight of initial cheese blocks produced by the plant
640 pounds: The weight of cheese blocks produced by the plant by 2006
What kind of cheese will the plant produce?
Cheddar, colby, american, corby jack, pepper jack and monterrey jack cheeses will be produced.
Who will buy the cheese the plant produces?
Two major consumers of Southwest products are Kraft and Shriver.
How many people will the plant employ?
At full capacity, the plant will employ 220 people. The plant is still hiring, and is looking especially for people with electrical skills to serve on its maintenance staff.
For more information, visit www.southwestcheese.com
Source: Maurice Keane, SW Cheese CEO