On Oct. 1, in 1969, Midwest dairy farmers came together to form Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI). Over the years, dairy farmers from more than 75 local creameries united with one common goal: Add value to dairy farmers’ milk.
Today, AMPI members are celebrating their 50-year mark. Together, they annually market about 5.7 billion pounds of milk, generating $1.7 billion in sales. The co-op owns 10 Midwest-based manufacturing plants where 10% of the nation’s American-type cheese, processed cheese slices and butter is produced. And recently, AMPI cheese, butter and powdered whey were recognized with first-place finishes in the 2019 World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest.
AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.
In addition to manufacturing, AMPI has long been engaged in the dairy policy arena, understanding the impact federal policies have on members’ farm and co-op business. AMPI remains an active and respected voice through grassroots efforts, dairy policy groups and the AMPI Political Action Committee.
Steve Schlangen, AMPI board chairman and a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn., in a news release credited the foresight and business sense of Midwest dairy farmers who came together to form the cooperative.
“They did so at a critical point of change in our industry and our nation,” he said. “As an AMPI member, I’m proud to partner with fellow dairy farmers in owning the manufacturing infrastructure needed to deliver great-tasting dairy products to the marketplace from the milk produced on my farm.”
World Dairy Expo awards
Cheese, butter and powdered whey made in AMPI manufacturing plants took five first-place awards in the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest.
This year’s contest attracted more than 1,500 entries from dairy processors throughout North America.
Judges selected an entry made by cheesemakers at AMPI's Blair, Wis., plant as the first-place winner in the highly competitive mild cheddar class. Also earning first-place honors was a colby jack made by AMPI cheesemakers from Jim Falls, Wis. This is repeat recognition for the cheesemakers who also topped their classes in 2018.
AMPI’s new Dinner Bell Creamery-brand butter also received top honors with a limited-edition bourbon butter. Buttermakers from New Ulm took the win in the flavored butter class.
AMPIOWN LABEL: AMPI rolled out its own product label during June Dairy Month. Dinner Bell Creamery butter was the first product. Cheese will be next, in time for the holidays.
The cooperative also scored first-place awards in the 34% and 80% whey protein concentrate classes. Both winning entries were manufactured at the co-op’s Paynesville, Minn., plant.
AMPI’s first-place dairy products were auctioned off Oct. 1 during the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. A portion of the auction proceeds fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in the dairy industry.
In June, AMPI launched its own brand, Dinner Bell Creamery. Butter quarters were the first AMPI product to bear the new brand, which is being positioned as a mid-price butter, falling between higher-priced national brands and lower-priced private label products. AMPI-labeled butter is being transitioned to the Dinner Bell Creamery brand and is sold to AMPI retail and foodservice customers. It also is available at Holiday Stationstores gas stations.
Dinner Bell Creamery cheese packaging is in the process of getting finalized, just in time for a holiday release.
Learn more at dinnerbellcreamery.coop.