Kroger to expand Ohio dairy facility

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Kroger is upgrading its ability to fulfill dairy orders.

The Kroger Co. is bolstering its ability to provide long shelf-life high protein drinks, non-dairy and dairy products.

America’s largest grocer will undertake a 35,000 square-foot expansion at the Tamarack Farms Dairy facility in Newark, Ohio to support the implementation of a state-of-the-art aseptic milk line. The line will be capable of manufacturing products such as half and half, heavy whipping cream, coffee creamers, and milk beverages. The new line will also allow the facility to support over 150 jobs.

Tamarack Farms Dairy, a 20-acre site, is the largest fluid dairy product producer in the state of Ohio. The facility serves approximately 160 stores in Ohio and West Virginia and provides products for Kroger's e-commerce channel. Kroger owns and operates dairy-producing facilities across the U.S. and offers customers nationwide a ten-day milk freshness guarantee.

The new aseptic milk line is part of Kroger's large-scale efforts to deliver supply chain innovation through modern technology. Most notably, these efforts include customer fulfillment centers (CFCs), next-generation e-commerce fulfillment centers Kroger is developing with U.K.-based online grocer Ocado Group.

These automated fulfillment centers leverage advanced robotics and other solutions including sorting technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Since partnering with Ocado in May 2018, Kroger has been creating a delivery network that combines seamless and efficient fulfillment, picking and delivery capabilities.

The facilities support more than 1,000 bots moving across a giant 3D grid, known as “The Hive.” The Hive contains totes filled with products and ready-to-deliver customer orders. As customers' orders near delivery times, the bots retrieve products from The Hive and move them to pick stations where they are sorted for delivery — a process supported by AI algorithms.

After being packed, groceries are loaded into a refrigerated delivery van that can store up to 20 orders. Machine learning algorithms optimize delivery routes by considering factors like road conditions and optimal fuel efficiency. Drivers may travel up to 90 miles to deliver orders.

"We are so pleased to see this continued investment in Newark," said Doug Blacksten, senior director of supply chain and manufacturing for Kroger. "Kroger is Fresh for Everyone, and that means we are committed to sourcing and manufacturing only the best and freshest products. This cutting-edge innovation at Tamarack Farms Dairy underscores that commitment, improving our ability to offer high-quality dairy products to Kroger customers."

"Kroger's significant investment transforms the Tamarack Farms Dairy into an aseptic processing facility, creating a new market for Ohio's dairy industry," said Tim Derickson, JobsOhio Senior Managing Director of Food and Agribusiness. "The extended shelf-life dairy product that will come from the cutting-edge operations in the Licking County facility will meet growing demand for Kroger's customers nationwide and boost demand for dairy farmers throughout Central Ohio."

Based in Cincinnati, Kroger operates 2,800 stores, including more than 100 stores in Southeast Texas and Louisiana, under a variety of banners across the U.S., including Kroger, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith's, King Soopers, Fry's, QFC, City Market, Owen's, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker's, Gerbes, Harris Teeter, Pick 'n Save, Metro Market, and Mariano's.