By Jeff Smith


jsmith@the-leader.com


CAMPBELL - Upstate Farms Cheese has received a $1,550,000 Consolidated Funding Application grant that will aid a planned $11,400,000 plant upgrade to increase production volume by 16 million pounds by the end of 2023.


Jamie Johnson, executive director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, said the investment will upgrade and modernize equipment to a higher standard for its mozzarella, ricotta, and fresh curd production lines.


“Primarily the investment is going to go into production equipment upgrades to increase capacity,” Johnson said.


Upstate Niagara purchased the Campbell facility in 2017 and currently produces 1,000,000 pounds of Italian cheeses weekly, officials said. The existing product lines are mozzarella, string cheese, ricotta, impastata, and fresh curd.


Officials said the company will also install a third String Cheese packaging line and a bulk mozzarella packing line that will allow the plant to be more competitive in the pizza cheese supply chain.


“Everything that we have heard (about Upstate Farms Cheese) so far has been positive,” Johnson said. “They continue to increase capacity and employees. The plant is up to about 200 employees, but there is some seasonality to that based on what they are producing.”


The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council has set the goal to have the region be a world-recognized leader in agriculture technology and serve as a key food supplier for the East Coast of the United States.


Based on the 2016 Annual Summary of New York State Dairy Statistics, Upstate Farms Cheese produced approximately 16 percent of the Italian Cheeses manufactured in the state.


The project is expected to increase production at the plant by 16 million pounds annually, increasing production by 30 percent resulting in an additional 175 million pounds of milk needed on an annual basis, making the facility a major outlet for Upstate NY’s milk supply.


“They have been winning a number of global, national and regional awards for their cheese,” Johnson said.


Chris Sharkey, president of Corning Enterprises, said she is pleased how the Southern Tier faired in the recent CFA process.


“These grants lead to a lot of good manufacturing projects happening,” Sharkey said.