Wisconsin dairy processors invested $1.24 billon over the last five years, according to a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) survey taken in January and February.
Natural cheese plants accounted for 65% of the total, with companies producing less than 5 million pounds spending more than half of that.
The plants said they plan to invest another $781 million in coming years, mostly to upgrade utilities and waste treatment. Nearly 60% said they’ll increase the amount of dairy products they manufacture by up to 25% over the next five years; one-fifth said they’ll grow by more than 25%.
Processors in the survey said they’ll spend most of their development and marketing funds on developing new products and adding value to their current products.
Raw milk plants said that finding capital financing, waste treatment regulations, and costs of energy and health insurance were factors most likely to limit profitability. Other plants, which process ingredients such as cream, whey or natural cheese into other dairy products, said energy and health insurance costs would be their limiting factors.