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Tillamook Cheese expands east

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Tillamook will market lactose, whey protein concentrate


By NATALIE WHEELER


East Oregonian


BOARDMAN, Ore. -- Construction workers began laying the foundation this week for a 63,000-square-foot expansion of Tillamook's Boardman facility that will process whey.


Whey wasn't a common ingredient on the world's menu when Tillamook County Creamery Association opened its Boardman plant in 2001.


"The value of whey in the marketplace wasn't nearly what it is now," corporate communications manager Tori Hamms said. "Now it's in nutritional supplements and formula. So many more things use derivatives of whey products."


The expansion will add 50 to 60 jobs to the plant, which currently has about 140 employees. The corporation would not disclose the cost of the new whey processing addition.


When milk is processed into curds of cheese, the remaining liquid is the whey. The corporation had previously trucked the Boardman plant's whey to the Darigold plant in Sunnyside, but the expansion will allow Tillamook to process, dry and sell its whey.


"This allows us to round out every dollar of milk we buy so we're using both the cheese and whey side," Tillamook's Chief Operating Officer Mark Wustenberg said.


Tillamook will market both lactose and a whey protein concentrate called WPC 80 because of the expansion. WPC 80 can be found in products such as protein sports drinks or protein-fortified energy bars.


The plant's expansion is part of Tillamook's larger shift in production to Boardman. The plant's last expansion in 2004 allowed it to produce cheese at double the capacity of the company's original Tillamook location.


Hamms said that while the Tillamook location does already process whey, Boardman's future whey production will be more sophisticated than in Tillamook.


"It's obvious to us that we have a great partnership with the local area and with the Port of Morrow," Wustenberg said.


The company expects its Boardman plant to be producing whey by the beginning of 2014.



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