BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI) - On South Ash Street, just off the main drag in Blackfoot there is a plant that has been there for 100 years and is now making award-winning cheese.
Glanbia Nutritionals has been operating the facility for the past 9 years and sends out 40-pound blocks of cheese to 10 different unnamed cheese plants in the U.S. and even overseas. You will see their cheese on the store shelves under different names, but not Glanbia. The only place you can find their specialty cheeses is in Twin Falls through a project with the Cheese Innovation Center at a retail store called simply the Cheese Marketplace.
Glanbia Blackfoot recently brought home first-place awards at the 2022 Idaho Milk Processors Association Dairy Product Contest at the organization's 96th annual meeting in Sun Valley. The smoky hickory cheddar and white sharp cheddar got blue ribbons. One cheese, the smoky hickory cheddar got the highest bid for their block of cheese in a scholarship for dairy students. It brought in $5,750 or roughly $150 a pound for the 40-pound block.
Sixty people work at the plant and have a lot of pride in what they do. Troy Swallow is the one who keeps all the machines and assembly lines working. “It’s pretty exciting to see the ribbons that we have won and awards we get and to know it was produced here in little Blackfoot, you know, in a sense that we are producing some pretty awesome cheese right here a little plant right here in Blackfoot," Swallow said.
Alisha Steffens graduated from Blackfoot High and went on to ISU to get a degree in Bio-Chemistry. She is part of quality control. “I do the grading of the product. I make sure it is in specs and safe for the customer. It does not leave the door unless I say so," Steffens said.
David Bunnell is the plant manager. “We have people that have been here 30 years and their parents some of them have both worked here prior to that. So there is a lot of history here and it's crazy as I go around the community that a lot of people don’t know we are here,“ said David Bunnell, plant manager.
Bunnell says they are very involved in the community as a company and the people who work there. While the first-place awards are great, it's a recent safety milestone he is most proud of. “In any food processing facility you have machinery, there are wet floors. There are things that people can get injured by if they are not paying attention. We have done an extremely good job over the last year plus, with people not getting injured. We are celebrating 392 days without a reportable incident. We are rewarding and recognizing everyone in the plant two weeks from now with a Steak Dinner," Bunnell said.
You can learn more about Glanbia Nutritionals at https://www.glanbianutritionals.com