RIT Packaging Expertise Helps Bring Dairy Manufacturing Plant to Region

Columbian dairy Alpina to open its first North American plant in Batavia

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Francis Domoy and Daniel Goodwin

Alpina, a leading dairy-producing company in South America, will open its first specialty yogurt manufacturing plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia, N.Y.

Some of the major factors for choosing Batavia was its proximity to many of the largest dairy producers in western New York, the research and development capabilities at area colleges and the experience in packaging science that Rochester Institute of Technology has demonstrated, says Steve Hyde, president and chief executive officer of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

“Fostering growth in advanced manufacturing is vital in development of western New York, and we are proud to have such an esteemed university who will partner with us, provide their expertise and encourage economic development,” says Hyde.

RIT supported the Colombian firm’s decision to locate in the Batavia region after many other sites in the U.S. were considered, says Francis Domoy, chair emeritus, Constellation Commons for Global Learning at RIT. He and Daniel Goodwin, professor of packaging science in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, hosted several of Alpina’s top officials at RIT.

The group toured RIT and the packaging science department. They expect to work closely with the university to take advantage of its sustainable packaging expertise for a variety of the company’s products. Additionally, they will explore cooperative opportunities for RIT students at both the new plant and at existing manufacturing facilities in Colombia, says Goodwin.

“RIT’s packaging science department was honored to host this leading South American manufacturer of high quality dairy products and develop both research and co-op relationships with our students here in the U.S. and in South America,” he says.

Established in 1945, Alpina runs nine industrial facilities in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador and has a commercial presence in more than 12 countries, garnering annual sales of nearly $740 million. Its U.S. headquarters is in Miami.

The company will start construction on a 28,000-square-foot facility in Batavia in August and looks to begin operations in spring 2012. It plans to invest more than $15 million and create 50 jobs at the new dairy manufacturing plant.

Attracting this type of company has many economic and educational benefits, says James Myers, director for the Center of Multidisciplinary Studies at RIT, another of the RIT representatives involved in the negotiations. He cited the demand for the region’s high quality, locally produced agricultural products and university graduates skilled in food and beverage manufacturing as having a positive impact on the local economy.

Also participating in the negotiations to support the Alpina venture were Cornell University, Greater Rochester Enterprise and the governor’s office.