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Materne North America's fruit processing facility in Nampa, Idaho, is shown in this March 18 photo. A company official said Idaho would be a top candidate if Materne builds a facility in the United States to produce its new dairy based product.

NAMPA, Idaho — If French company Materne proceeds with preliminary plans to build a facility in the United States to produce its new dairy-based product, Idaho would be a top candidate, a company official told Nampa business leaders March 16.

It would make sense to build the facility in Idaho for the same reasons Materne North America built its second U.S. fruit processing facility in Nampa two years ago, said Boris Salome, plant manager of the Nampa facility.

But, he told 320 people attending the Nampa Chamber of Commerce Ag Forum, “It’s not a promise.”

The $85 million Nampa facility produces the company’s squeezable, re-sealable fruit pouches, which are sold in more than 50,000 locations around the country. Materne’s first U.S. facility opened in 2008 in Michigan.

The company’s new, dairy based product, GoGo squeeZ yogurtZ, hit U.S. shelves earlier this month. That product is being produced in France.

If it sells well in the U.S., the company plans to build a facility here to produce it, Salome told Capital Press later.

“We need to wait a bit to see how well it’s going to (sell),” he said. But, he added, “We have been testing this product and it has been received very well.”

Salome said one of the main reasons the company chose to locate its second U.S. facility in Idaho is because the state has a highly skilled workforce when it comes to food processing.

When it comes to food processing know-how, “this is definitely the place to be,” he said.

Idaho was also ideal because it is strategically located in the nation’s top fruit producing region, Salome said.

If Materne does build a dairy product facility in the U.S., “We would want it to be close to dairy (production) and Idaho is well positioned for dairy activity,” he said.

Idaho plays leap frog with New York as the No. 3 milk producing state.

News that the company considers Idaho a top candidate for a yogurt production facility was well received among leaders of Idaho’s dairy industry.

“It would be great if that happened,” said Milk Producers of Idaho Executive Director Brent Olmstead. “We would certainly do whatever we could do to help them realize that.”

Idaho Department of Commerce Director Megan Ronk said the state would “do whatever we can on our end to make that a reality.”

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