A Brattleboro yogurt company that’s been operating less than two years says it’s grown more quickly than expected. That’s thanks to the rising popularity of Greek-style yogurt, which the company makes.
Commonwealth Dairy announced plans Thursday for a $12 million expansion.
Dozens of state and local officials were on hand for the announcement. Many had worked hard to help attract Commonwealth to Brattleboro and make sure the region could meet the company’s milk needs.
Governor Peter Shumlin told the group their efforts had paid off.
"The promise was that if Commonwealth Yogurt could get their permits, get their financing, make this happen, that we could expect to see 50 jobs here in five years," Shumlin said. "We are now currently employing 110 hard working Vermonters, with the promise, because of this expansion for an additional 30 to 40 jobs."
Commonwealth owners Tom Moffitt and Ben Johnson say that on a busy week the company receives 40 tanker trucks. That’s about two million pounds of milk a week. They say most of it comes from dairy co-ops in Vermont.
Diane Bothfeld is Vermont’s deputy secretary of agriculture. She says having a milk processing facility in Vermont is good for the state’s dairy industry in many ways.
"It’s a morale boost for our dairy farmers in Vermont, that go up and down on prices, etcetera," Bothfield says. "There’s a demand for their milk. And it helps the overall dairy economy to have the ability to have that milk processed right here in Vermont, value-added and then sold throughout the Northeast."
Bothfeld says New York State also hopes to cash in on the popularity of Greek yogurt. New York has three new yogurt processing facilities under construction.
Bothfeld says that could bring about a milk shortage. She says agencies in both states are working with farmers to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Commonwealth Yogurt is a joint venture that involves a German yogurt manufacturer, Ehrmann AG. Most of the Vermont company’s milk is sold to private labels, or as Green Mountain Creamery Yogurt.