Meadow Gold dairy pulling out of Delta
First it was coal. Now it’s milk.
In another blow to the Delta County economy, Dean Foods, the company that operates a Meadow Gold milk processing center in the city of Delta, will phase out all production at the plant within the next three months. That will mean the loss of some 38 jobs.
A number of administrative positions at the company’s branch facility in Grand Junction also are being eliminated.
Officials with Dean Foods are pegging their decision to pull out of Delta on a project currently underway by regional grocer City Market, which is building its own dairy processing plant on the Front Range.
“This move (to close the Delta plant) does not reflect the quality of work performed by our employees, but the choice by our customer (City Market) to operate its own dairy processing facility and our need to remove redundancy in our operations,” Dean Foods spokesman Jamaison Schuler wrote in an email.
Schuler said 10 positions from the Delta plant — which has been operating there since 1951 — will be transferred to the distribution operation in Grand Junction. The company is encouraging laid-off workers to apply for other vacant positions within the company.
Meadow Gold and Dean Foods products will still be available in the region, Schuler said.
Officials with City Market confirmed Wednesday that the company is pursuing its own dairy facility in Denver. It’s expected to be operational within the next few months.
“The reason we decided to build our own facility is really that it helps us to continue to be competitively priced. And more than anything, I think it helps us guarantee more of a gold standard in milk freshness,” said Kelli McGannon, a spokeswoman for Kroger, the parent company of City Market.
“As soon as the milk is ready, we can ship it,” she said.
The North Fork Valley is struggling to keep the industrial jobs it has enjoyed in the past. A fire at Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine in Somerset in December 2012 led to an idling of the mine and the layoff of some 265 employees.