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Diversified ingredients makes its whey to Preston

These smaller dryers are able to produce smaller amounts and specialty blends of food grade dairy products.
Photo by Cori Larson

On November 18, Foremost Farm’s Preston facility was purchased equally by Diversified Ingredients and Johnson Farms.  These companies are headquartered respectively out of Ballwin, Mo., and Lime Springs, Iowa.  Preston Protein Products has two executive managers, Matt Collins from Diversified Ingredients and Mike Johnson from Johnson Farms.  The facility in Preston is now named Preston Protein Products.  Foremost Farms has had a long-standing customer relationship with both of these companies and Preston Protein Products continues to dry dairy products for Foremost Farms. 

All 20 employees of the Preston plant have seamlessly transitioned their careers.  Their positions, hours, wages and benefits remain equitable.  Cori Larson is the plant superintendent of the newly formed Preston Protein Products.  She worked at Foremost Farms for 25 years.   “The new  management made the transition painless and valued the company’s existing employees by ensuring that their voices were heard and their needs taken care of,” shared Larson.

The Preston Foremost Farms plant was started in 1910, when 57 farmers cooperatively purchased equipment and formed the Preston Creamery Association.  In 1924, A fire burned down the building near the fairgrounds that housed the Preston Creamery. After the fire, a new building was constructed at the current location.  Over the years, various additions were built as the company grew.  A merger with four other local cooperative dairies in 1970 created  Meadowland Dairy and in 1979 Meadowland merged with Wisconsin Dairies.  Foremost Farms USA was formed in 1995 when Wisconsin Dairies (Baraboo, Wis.) and Golden Guernsey Dairy (Milwaukee, Wis.) consolidated.  Foremost Farms sold its Preston facility in November of this year.

Preston Protein Products, under the management of Diversified Ingredients, will be able to create customized product.  Larson stated, “These companies were interested in the Preston plant largely because of its smaller box dryer and it capability to produce smaller amounts and specialty blends.  We (the Preston plant) are Diversified Ingredients’ only manufacturing plant.”  Diversified Ingredients provides transfer, transportation and shipping of bulk ingredients nationally and internationally.  Preston Protein Products is its sole food grade manufacturing facility and is organic certified.  A couple of their organic customers are Organic Valley and Kalona Farms.  In 2018, Foremost Farms installed a new silo out back and upgraded its dryer, recognizing the potential that a smaller, specialized operation might have.

Josh Bergey, intake operator, empties liquid (whey or buttermilk) from a truck.
Photo by Sandra Seha

What exactly do they do at Preston Protein Products?  They receive liquid whey and buttermilk in tank trucks and dry these liquids into a powdered state to be purchased for use in food grade products.  Whey is a byproduct of cheesemaking and buttermilk a byproduct to buttermaking.  “Whey protein concentrate is in so many food products,” says Larson.  “We used to make a dough conditioner for example, that we’d sell.”  The Preston facility produces bulk product in 50 lb bags (and sometimes in 2,000 lb totes) meant to be sold as a raw material for food product companies to prepare and  package in smaller amounts and distribute to food manufacturers.  Preston Protein Products is hoping to expand drying operations and start a blending business, providing custom ingredient blends available in 50 lb bags.

Congratulations are in order for Foremost Farms USA Preston Plant for winning the 2020 World Championship Cheese Contest Best of Class Award for whey protein concentrate.  Preston Protein Products is hoping to defend the title in 2021!

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