Hilmar Cheese Company, a leader in the California dairy industry, has stepped forward with a $250,000 commitment to support construction of the new August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory at UC Davis.

The new laboratory, part of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, includes milk processing facilities for scientific research, student training and industry collaboration. Constructed entirely through private donations, the facilities are scheduled for completion this summer and occupancy in fall.

"Innovations in dairy products and processing are critical to meet the needs of customers worldwide and to keep the United States competitive," said John Jeter, Hilmar Cheese Company chief executive officer and president. "The research and teaching excellence at UC Davis is crucial to our continued growth and development. We encourage the industry to join us in supporting new dairy research at the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory."

"We are very grateful to Hilmar Cheese Company for its demonstration of support for this essential project," said Neal Van Alfen, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "Research and training at UC Davis helped transform California’s dairy industry into the nation’s leader. This gift not only validates our past accomplishments, but reaffirms the desire for continued improvements in quality, nutritional value and farm-level productivity."

Features of the milk processing laboratory include dairy-grade floor, walls, and ceilings; eight utility stations with chilled and hot water, culinary steam and broad electrical capability; an advanced air-filtering system; and isolated drainage. Planned or proposed equipment include raw milk cooling tank, milk separator, milk pasteurizer, milk homogenizer, ultraclean milk filler and a membrane separation system.

Examples of areas of research include separation of milk components into functional ingredients, processing feed-modified milk and processing of milk from genetically selected cows. The laboratory will also be very useful for providing hands-on student learning.

"Our strength at UC Davis is research and helping keep the dairy industry on the cutting edge technologically," said James Seiber, chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology. "The milk processing laboratory has been carefully designed to focus on flexibility in teaching and research capabilities rather than production. This enables us to complement the milk processing facilities at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to better serve the state’s dairy industry."

In addition to the milk processing laboratory, other new facilities in the 11,500 square-foot complex include the California Processing Tomato Industry Pilot Plant, a brewery, classrooms, offices and an analytical laboratory. The new teaching and research winery is in an adjoining building. The first facilities at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science opened in fall 2008 and contain state-of-the-art teaching and research buildings for the Department of Food Science and Technology and the Department of Viticulture and Enology.

The August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory has been designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certification, a designation granted by the United States Green Building Council. It will be the only LEED platinum facility of this type in the world and only the second LEED platinum building in the UC system.

Hilmar Cheese Company was founded in 1984 by 12 central California dairy families seeking to maximize the value of their Jersey cows’ high-solids milk. The company prospered through investments in research and new technology, and has since grown into one of the largest cheese manufacturers in the world. Each day the company processes more than 2 million gallons of milk from more than 270 dairies to produce 2 million pounds of natural, American-style cheeses like cheddar and Monterey Jack, and many other cheese and whey products. Their cheeses are consistent winners at California State Fair competitions. With production facilities in Hilmar, Calif., and Dalhart, Texas, the company employs more than 900 people.

“We hope other members of the dairy industry join with Hilmar Cheese Company in support of UC Davis research and new facilities to train a new generation of University of California students in state-of-the-art dairy processing,” Seiber said.

Source: University of California-Davis