Updated: Monday, 24 Sep 2012, 6:39 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 24 Sep 2012, 5:27 PM EDT
BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Alpina Foods had its ribbon cutting ceremony Monday for its $18 million dollar yogurt plant in Batavia, the first in the U.S. for the South American company.
"The reason why we are here is because of three factors. One: your economy. The second is your spirit. You are always looking for opportunities to have people join your economy and make it better," said Juan Pablo Fernandez, Alpina Foods General Manager.
Fernandez says the third reason they came to western New York is because they were stubborn and had looked for a long time at European markets.
"The production of Greek-style yogurt has become a critical job creator and driver of economic activity and many parts of the state, particularly western New York," said Ken Adams of Empire State Development.
Since 2000, the number of yogurt processing plants has grown from 14 to 29. The introduction of Greek-style yogurt is a major reason for this jump. Three times as much milk is needed to produce Greek-style over traditional yogurt.
New York dairy production employed 8,000 people last year.
"I suspect you are going to add fruit to your yogurt. The cherries, the peaches, the strawberries. You have found the fruit belt as well. You have to support our local fruit farmers in the back door," said Congresswomen Kathy Hochul.
Alpina Foods is expected to add at least 50 jobs with 30 already hired. Western New York makes up 40 percent of the entire state's milk production, with Wyoming County being the leading county.