Bel Brands USA will build a 170,000-square-foot facility in Brookings, S.D. to produce its Mini Babybel product.
It’s one of the biggest capital investments in recent South Dakota history, and expected to have a $500 million annual economic jolt. It’s also expected to lead to research, internship and career opportunities for South Dakota State University students, and bring alumni back to Brookings for jobs.
“Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Barry Dunn, dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. “This is jobs. It’s work experience. It’s internships … This will impact all of our students in a very positive way – open up opportunities for them. It’s an absolute game changer.”
Bel Brands, headquartered in Chicago, also produces The Laughing Cow cheese wedges, Boursin, Merkts, Kaukauna and other natural and gourmet cheese spreads. It’s the U.S. subsidiary of Paris-based Fromageries Bel and also has U.S.-based production facilities in Leitchfield, Ky., and Little Chute, Wis.
“We’ve been impressed with the state of South Dakota,” Chambers said. “The robust dairy industry that will provide raw materials, the economic development and support, and the world-class dairy facilities and dairy research (at SDSU). We think there’s great synergies and partnership possibilities in working with (SDSU).”
Bel Brands has more than doubled in size the past four years. Mini Babybel, which represents close to one-third of Bel Brands’ U.S. sales, has almost tripled with consistent 25 percent growth, Chambers said. Phase one of the project will have a production capacity of 22 million pounds or 10,000 metric tons.
Source: Arugus Leader