Wells' Dairy helps region rank high in food processing

Monday, September 14, 2009

Plymouth County's largest employer helped push the Sioux City metro region to the top of the list for food processing industry growth in a New Jersey magazine.

Sioux City, along with the surrounding area, was picked as the Top Metro for Food Processing Industry Growth in the August issue of "Business Facilities." It is, the magazine said, the leading growth center for food processing, food products and agribusiness.

And Wells' Dairy, of Le Mars, is listed as one of the major food processing employers at the center of "a huge food-oriented job-creating engine," according to the article "2009 Metro Rankings."

Wells' Dairy spokesman Dave Smetter said there are a number of reasons the ice cream and frozen novelty company finds this region so attractive.

"Our heritage has been here. We grew up here," he said.

The Le Mars location also puts Wells' Dairy close to some of the resources needed for their production -- namely raw milk.

"And being in a centralized area of the country allows for a good distribution point to all of the country," Smetter said.

Rates for power, like electricity and gas, are very competitive in the region, he added.

"As we see other food processing companies looking at the area, that's at the top of their list, too," he said.

Christopher McGowan, executive vice president of the Siouxland Initiative, said the ranking in the magazine suggests there is a lot of synergy in the region.

"If this many food processing industries are excelling, then this many are here helping them succeed," McGowan said.

Each food processing industry in the region opens doors for other related industries to flourish locally, he said.

"Any time a support industry is closer, it's advantageous," Smetter said. "Any time a supplier base is as close to your main production center as possible, the cost of transportation goes down, and so does inventory cost."

One example for Wells' Dairy is BoDeans Baking Group -- producer of ice cream cones and wafers -- which is also based in Le Mars.

There is still room for other companies that would complement and be complemented by food processing industries like Wells' Dairy.

For example, Wells' Dairy uses a lot of printed packaging materials.

Having more packaging suppliers in Le Mars or close would help cut costs, Smetter said.

The same would be true with any number of producers of ice cream and frozen treat mix-ins, he said.

"We procure so many different types of ingredients, so if any source of those was close, that would also help us cut costs," he said.

Along with Wells' Dairy, the "2009 Metro Rankings" article also listed companies like Interbake Foods and Beef Products, Inc., both in North Sioux City, S.D., and Sara Lee Bakery Group and Sioux Honey Association, in Sioux City.

Following Sioux City in the Top Metros for Food Processing Industry Growth were Genesee County, N.Y., Livingston County, N.Y., Jackson, Tenn. and Fresno, Calif.

Sioux City's metro area was also listed as No. 3 in the Top Five Metros for Economic Growth Potential (under 200,000 population).

The listings in the "2009 Metro Rankings" article sends a powerful message to other food processors about the Sioux City area, McGowan said.

"This region is well-positioned for future growth," he said. "With a multitude of world-class food processing companies in the area, there must be many reasons they're succeeding. This is a great place to do business."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: