Arizona's largest family-owned dairy farm is trying to increase its national presence by building a production facility on the East Coast.
Shamrock Farms broke ground in Augusta County, Va., last week on a 130,000-square-foot dairy manufacturing facility. The $50 million plant is scheduled to be finished in 2014 and will exclusively produce Shamrock's extended-shelf-life products; regular gallons and half gallons of milk will still be produced only in Arizona.
In 2001, the company introduced its extended-shelf-life technologies, which allow certain products to have a shelf life of 100 days rather than the 23 days that a regular gallon of milk has.
Shamrock's extended-shelf-life products - protein-fortified-milk beverages that are sold as On The Go mmmmilk and Rockin' Refuel - have gained traction in the last couple of years. Shamrock Farms has partnered with national fast food chains, retail stores, and colleges and universities to stock the products.
Shamrock Farms started in Tucson in 1922. Since then it has grown not only in Arizona but nationally. The new facility is to support Shamrock Farms' national growth, said Sandy Kelly, Shamrock Farms' senior director of marketing.
"We've seen a lot of growth in On The Go mmmmilk, and we want to continue to invest in it," Kelly said.
Kelly said the new facility will initially increase Shamrock's overall production by 30 percent. It will be able to fill up to 500 bottles of milk a minute.
Just like Shamrock Farms does in Arizona, Kelly said the Virginia facility will work with local dairy farmers producing its milk.
"We have high standards for milk and animal care, and we will work with like-minded farmers in Virginia," Kelly said.
The new facility will produce at least 60 new jobs for Augusta County. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was at the groundbreaking and said he is excited to have Shamrock set up operations in his state.
"With this project, Virginia adds another major corporation to its roster," McDonnell said in a news release. "This new dairy manufacturing facility is the perfect fit for a region rich in agricultural history."
Right now, Shamrock products are sold in 15,000 locations nationwide, including all Subway, Arby's and Einstein Bagels locations.
"Quick-serve restaurants see the value in milk," Kelly said.
She said that Shamrock will continue to grow and market its milk and milk-based products nationally, but said it will never stop serving its first customers in Arizona.
"Arizona will always be our home, and we are proud to represent the Arizona business community on a national level," Kelly said.
"Arizona will always be our home, and we are proud to represent the Arizona business community on a national level."
Shamrock Farms' senior director of marketing