Ireland co-op expands Wisconsin plant

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Ireland is eyeing expansion as the E.U. quota expires in April 2015, and one destination is Wisconsin. The Irish Dairy Board (IDB), a cooperative of Irish processors making Kerrygold, Beo Milk, PIlgims’ Choice, Mu, and Dubliner products, handles 60 percent of Ireland’s exports to 100 countries with over 3,100 employees.

The new plant, opened today, Wednesday, June 25, as part of an $80 million expansion of the U.S. food ingredients business of Thiel Cheese & Ingredients, Hilbert, Wis., a subsidiary of IDB. The expansion represents a 40% growth for IDB in the U.S. and will support 135 existing jobs.

Thiel began in the 1930s when Al Thiel, Sr., began making natural cheeses on his Menasha, Wis., farm. The company delivered milk, butter, and ice cream until 1965, when it began to focus on coldpacking cheese spreads as well as continuing natural cheese production. In the 1990s, the company began a process cheese line.

AMPI purchased the Menasha plant in 1973, and the Irish Dairy Board acquired the company from FCF Partners – a Milwaukee private equity firm – in 2011.

IDB, headquartered in Dublin, also has U.S. offices in Evanston, Ill., and owns Meadow Ingredients USA, LLC, in Byron, Minn.

Sources: Irish Dairy Board,, Food Business News

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