December 1, 2021

Byrne to spend $25M on plant in C’ville

Byrne Dairy will spend $25 million to re-tool its Cortlandville plant to make long shelf-life products, such as ultrahigh temperature pasteurization milk, the company announced this week.

The work, to begin in January and be completed in October 2022, will install new equipment and product lines as the Syracuse-based dairy moves away from yogurt, which is now made at the South Cortland plant, in addition to sour cream.

“This investment in our Cortlandville facility will have an instant impact on our ability to serve these markets,” said Carl Byrne, Byrne president and CEO. It will mean the 80-person work force at the plant will be reduced during construction, but will be restored by the fourth quarter of 2022, Byrne said. The company expects 50 construction jobs for the project.

The $25 million project at the 7-year-old plant represents a long-term commitment to Cortland County, said Garry L. VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp.

“Any great company — and Byrne Dairy is a great company — is constantly evaluating market trends and projecting how its business might evolve and thrive in the coming years,” VanGorder said in a news release. “That’s what’s happening here. It’s all about sustainability.”

Ultra-high temperature pasteurization and aseptic packaging creates dairy products that can go months without refrigeration.

The process can also be used for cream, yogurt, soy-based beverages, fruit juices, soups, honey and stews.

The process heats milk or cream to between 280 and 302 degrees Fahrenheit for one to two seconds, killing bacteria and microorganisms with minimal damage to nutritional value. Industry analysts say such milk products were a $61.6 billion industry in 2020, and expect it to grow to $114 billion by 2028.

Don’t expect Cortland’s milk to stay local. The fastest-growing markets are in China, South America, Africa and the Middle East — places where refrigeration can be hard to come by. Growth is further fueled by a rise in online shopping, which can require fluid milk to be shipped without refrigeration.

Byrne Dairy employs nearly 600 people at its Central New York dairy plants and warehouses. The company’s convenience stores employ another 1,300 people.