Yesterday afternoon The Food Industry Center hosted Clint Fall, CEO and President of First District Association, for the 3rd in the 2012 series of Food Industry Leader in the Classroom events. First District Association (FDA) is a dairy cooperative that operates out of Litchfield, MN. Made up of over 1,100 member owners, FDA processes approximately 3.9 million pounds of milk each day and focuses on cheese, milk, and powder production. Fall reported the coop makes more than 400,000 pounds of cheddar and more than 500,000 pounds of grade A fluid milk every day.
A food scientist by training, Fall emphasized FDA's commitment to high food safety standards, exceptional quality, and little waste. Raw milk is brought to the processing plant, then made into cheese, which is sold in 40 pound blocks or 500 pound barrels to other companies in the food industry. Every part of FDA's milk is used in the processing, with 'leftovers' such as whey protein and lactose being sold to infant formula and pharmaceuticals manufacturers. He also spoke about the coop's recently built state of the art facilities to generate as little waste as possible. Sharing some of the details, he noted the water that comes off of their evaporators, when making cheese, is clean enough to drink. It is then recycled back into the system by using the water to conduct heat. At the end of the day, the water is used to clean up the facilities.
Mr. Fall's presentation also gave us a glimpse of the farm-to-table dairy supply chain and industry. When asked about future careers, he stated the dairy and food sectors are particularly interesting industries right now for students to consider working in because of how fast everything is changing. Fall explained that when he first started working at FDA they did very little international business, but it is now steadily increasing. He also said the food industry needs everyone, from economics and business to food science and biology majors, so career opportunities are abundant.