The Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) is an Oregon-based dairy co-op and manufacturer known for their award-winning cheese, yogurt, butter and most importantly to this story – their deliciously creamy ice cream. 

Tillamook’s new ice cream manufacturing facility in Decatur, Illinois marks a few firsts for the company: it will be TCCA's first owned and operated manufacturing facility outside of Oregon and its only facility solely dedicated to ice cream production. 

"Consumer demand for Tillamook Ice Cream has grown exponentially over the past several years," said Mike Bever, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer at TCCA. "This new facility is an investment in our continued national expansion plans. We are proud to be able to expand our manufacturing footprint even further as another step toward bringing Tillamook to more fans around the country. Opening this Illinois manufacturing location will enable us to make more of our ice cream closer to the eastern U.S., where demand for our ice cream is growing fast. In the last year, we've added 1.6 million households and grown ice cream sales nearly 60% in the eastern U.S.”

From the Cold Corner Podcast

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TCCA uses five different plants across the country to produce its products. 

“We're making ice cream in Tillamook, Oregon, which is our owned and operated plant,” Bever said. “We're making ice cream in California, in Arizona, in the Midwest and in the Southeast. The total production is about 31 million gallons annually.  And, each of those locations are producing all of our 31 flavors.”

The Decatur plant will manufacture Tillamook family-size (48 ounce) ice cream and foodservice ice cream (3 gallon). At full capacity, it will produce over 15 million gallons of ice cream annually and employ about 70 people.

Previously owned by Prairie Farms, which also used the location for ice cream production, the plant closed in 2022. 

TCCA is spending $66 million upgrading “almost every system in the plant,” Bever said, adding automation, robotic palletizng and improving employee welfare spaces. 

“In some cases, they didn't need to be, but we're really driving efficiency of each of those systems. So, whether it's  HVAC, whether it's  compressed air, obviously, all of the lighting throughout the building  is all being upgraded in a way to make this plant as efficient as possible. The outside envelope of the building is being upgraded to increase R-value. It will feel, in many ways, like a new plant, particularly on the inside.” 

The Decatur location offers TCCA multiple benefits.

“In dairy, you consider several different things when you're picking a location, but the most important one is the milk and cream source. That region of the country has a very good, what we, call milk shed. It works well from that standpoint. It was also very efficient to the final mile for us from a transportation standpoint. And lastly, we found a partner with the economic development group there and the city of Decatur that has been just fantastic,” Bever said. “It allows us to be more flexible as volume surges. It allows us to do an even better job of controlling quality and it allows us to improve the overall margin of our product into particularly the eastern half of the country.”

With Tillamook’s growth, Bever said they anticipate more food plant projects in the near future.

“Without question, we were just finishing our most recent long range plan and it's going to require another (plant) in the future. So, as soon as we get this project done and ramped up, we'll be focusing on the next one,” he said. "Ultimately our continued growth is a 'win' for who and what matters most to us. It allows us to continue to generate meaningful profits for our farmer-owners, create growth and well-being opportunities for our 900+ employees and to give back to the communities where we live and work. Now we get to welcome Decatur into that valued group.” 

For more on Tillamook’s manufacturing expansion to Illinois, listen to the podcast in the player above or download it today!