PASCO, WASH. – Darigold, Inc., highlighted the most substantial investment in the cooperative’s century-plus history on Sept. 8, with a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of its upcoming $600 million production facility.

Scheduled to open in early 2024, in Pasco, Wash., and create approximately 200 jobs, the facility is expected to process about 8 million pounds of milk per day, 175 million pounds of butter per year and close to 280 million pounds of powdered milk products annually once it is completely operational.

The marketing and processing subsidiary of the Northwest Dairy Association shared that the facility will utilize two specialized milk dryers and two packaging lines for premium proteins and powdered milk products, as well as two butter churns, two bulk butter packaging lines and five consumer butter packaging lines.

"The Pasco project represents our third major capital investment in as many years, the largest investment in our co-op's 104-year-history and a significant step in an ongoing strategy to expand and modernize Darigold," said Joe Coote, chief executive officer. "We are a beloved heritage brand with deep roots in Washington and around the Pacific Northwest, but there's still considerable opportunity for us to leverage industry growth – here at home and around the world – to become a top-tier global dairy producer. This facility will play an important role in helping us achieve that vision."

Darigold chose the facility’s location due to the site’s proximity to both rail lines and global shipping ports, which it expects will make distribution more efficient both domestically and internationally.

"Dairy farmers in the Pacific Northwest have a unique opportunity to benefit from global demand for dairy, which is rising considerably faster than it is domestically,” said Allan Huttema, chairman of Darigold's board of directors, and operator of Almar Dairy in Parma, Idaho. “This region is ideally suited to producing high-quality, nutritious dairy, and our proximity to global shipping infrastructure makes it more efficient to access international markets."

The cooperative cited US Department of Agriculture data that showed demand for dairy grew by 1.6% in the US in 2021, when demand for dairy exports increased by 19%.

Darigold anticipates the new facility’s technologies and conservation strategies combined could help it mitigate more than 300,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. The plant’s milk dryers will feature burner technology that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by a significant amount, per the cooperative.

"The dairy industry continues to be a key driver of the region's agricultural sector," Coote said. "By adding capacity through this facility, we stand to share the bounty of Northwest dairy with more consumers at home and around the globe, and build more value for the family farmers who own our co-op. That's something that should be easy for all of us in the PNW to stand behind."

The collaboration for the new Darigold facility also involves developer Port of Pasco, architectural firm E.A. Bonelli & Associates and Miron Construction.

With headquarters in Seattle, Darigold is owned by more than 300 family-owned dairy farms in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.