Kiel Steel Plant

The transformative power of modern dairy

How Land O’Lakes is innovating and investing to strengthen the dairy industry and create products consumers love  

June's National Dairy Month is all about the cooperation between farmers, community members, manufacturers, retailers and consumers all to celebrate nutritious, delicious milk.

We’ve been celebrating milk since our founding as a farmer-owned cooperative in 1921.

As a nearly 100-year-old cooperative, we’re committed to the long-term health of the dairy industry and to creating new products consumer love. Here are a few examples of how those commitments are coming to life at Land O’Lakes.

Investing for the future

At our Kiel cheese plant, located in eastern Wisconsin, the milk that’s turned into Kiel’s award-winning aged cheddar cheese is provided almost exclusively by nearby Land O’Lakes member-owned farms.

At Kiel, we’ve undertaken a multi-year modernization project to allow us to make room to receive more member milk and deliver larger blocks of cheese.

These infrastructure improvements include modernizing cheese making and packaging, expanding capacity and making whey processing improvements.

When completed in mid-2019, Kiel will be able to handle 3.2 million pounds of milk per day and produce both 40-pound and 640-pound blocks of cheese.

This is a substantial investment that will give our members in Eastern Wisconsin the opportunity to expand their operations with planned growth (as part of the strategic business planning process we conduct with our members each year).

And, the 640-pound blocks of cheddar are attractive to customers for the ease of processing and reduction of waste.

What amazes me is that we’re making world class cheese while simultaneously rebuilding the facility and infrastructure. That’s made possible with highly committed and collaborative cross-functional teams.

Delivering what consumers want

We go to great lengths to understand how, when and where people consume our products. And we’re proud to be a part of family baking memories, food blogger go-to ingredients and every-day celebrations.

Just in time for summer picnic and grilling season, we’re launching our new butter platform, LAND O LAKES® Soft Squeeze™ Butter Spread. It’s clean (no crumbs), easy to use and made with real butter – just what consumers were asking for.

How do I know? We listened to consumers using qualitative and quantitative research.

And when we approached perfection, we asked consumers to test at home. They tracked their likes, dislikes and applications and shared it all with us. From there, we refined and launched into the market.

Listening to consumers – including everyone from devoted bakers to last-minute dinner-makers – helps us better transform milk into delicious products that can elevate a moment from ordinary to extraordinary.

Creating new products, like our Soft Squeeze, delivers a product we hope consumers will love, while creating new avenues of value-added products for our members’ milk.

I truly believe in the transformative power of dairy and am delighted to be part of a team bringing innovative new products, ideas and investments to the industry.

Chris Roberts is the EVP & COO, Dairy Foods, Land O’Lakes, Inc.