Danone Celebrates 50 Years in Minster

Staff Writer

More than 2,500 visitors showed up to join employees of Minster’s Dannon plant in a tour of its facilities last Saturday afternoon. The open house was in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the plant and its production of yogurt products in Minster.

Dannon began yogurt in Minster in 1968 with three employees. In that first year they produced 13,646 cups of yogurt. The current plant opened in 1977 and today employs 450. It’s projected to produce 1.1 billion cups of yogurt this year.

These were just a few of the interesting and entertaining facts that the tour visitors were exposed to by Dannon/Danone employees sharing what goes on behind the big glass windows on the plant’s facade along State Route 66.

The 24/7 production of yogurt enables Minster plant to produce upwards of 3,000,000 cups of yogurt each day. In order to accomplish that, the Minster plant receives milk 24 hours per day and has the capacity to store over 6 million gallons of milk. That’s 52 million pounds of milk.

It takes roughly 40,000 cows to provide the milk consumed by the Minster Plant each day. 70 percent of that milk supply comes from dairy farms within 100 miles of Minster. The milk is transported by truck to the Dannon facility and stored in silos. Raw milk is tested for antibiotics. Any testing positive is rejected. before it’s received. The raw milk is also pasteurized.

Batches of yogurt are produced in 100,000 lb. increments. Typically it takes 24 hours from the time the plant receives the milk to the time yogurt is made, packaged and shipped.

Danone North America is the largest B Corp-certified company in the United States, which means among other things, that it has been certified to meet the highest standards of verified performance, transparency and accountability. Danone considers itself as one of the leaders of “a global movement of people using business as a force for good” and an approach to a better way to do business – better for workers, communitiesand the environment.

Multiple brands are produced in Minster: Activia, DanActive, Light &Fit, Dannon, Danimals, Great Value, Oikos and Oikos Triple Zero.

Over 46 percent of the national demand is shipped from its Midwest distribution center here. On an average day 45 shipments leave carrying an average of 31 pallets of yogurt. Each pallet  averages  178 cases of yogurt. Danone’s customers receive 65 percent of their yogurt within 24 hours. 93 percent is received within 48 hours. No wonder the visitors lined up after their tour to bring home a sampling of Dannon’s offerings before they were shipped out.