BARRE TOWN — It’s been nearly two years since Land O’Lakes Inc. acquired award-winning Vermont Creamery, and expansion plans are underway.

The Websterville company was acquired by the Minnesota-based, farmer-owned cooperative in March 2017. The creamery became an independently operated subsidiary of Land O’Lakes and continued to produce fresh and aged goat cheeses, cultured butter and fresh dairy at its facility inside the Wilson Industrial Park.

When the acquisition was announced, officials at the company said the plan was to double the workforce at the creamery over the next four years and to upgrade the facility in Barre Town. The creamery had about 100 employees at the time.

Kara Young, the community and outreach coordinator for the creamery, said in an email Tuesday the workforce is currently at 107 and growing. Young said the company is actively hiring for first- and second-shift positions.

“Since our acquisition, we’ve built a new butter production area, added new milk vats and made several improvements to our plant’s infrastructure,” she said.

This spring, she said the company will start the first phase of expansion for the facility in Barre Town. The company has leased an off-site cooler within the industrial park that will be used to store the company’s finished goods.

“As our cooler space is reaching capacity, our finished products will be transitioned to that leased space until our creamery expansion is completed, hopefully by 2021. We’ll also focus our phase one efforts on expanding our R&D Lab and Quality Assurance Area, as well as invest in new equipment that will enable us to increase our production. Preliminary site work will also begin this spring, as will the state and local permitting process, which will serve as the kickoff to phase two — our creamery expansion,” Young said.

She said phase two will involve expanding the creamery itself, but the plans for that are still in the engineering phase.

The company continues to produce award-winning products. Last month, the company announced it had won a Good Food Award for its St. Albans product, a St. Marcellin-style aged cheese made from cows’ milk. It was the fourth such award the creamery had won in the past five years.

The awards are picked by a blind tasting and the products have to meet the environmental and social responsibility standards of the Good Food Awards.

Vermont Creamery became a Certified B Corp in 2014; B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability, using business as a force for good, according to the company.

eric.blaisdell

@timesargus.com

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