UI Extension’s food processing education aids dairy industry
Twin Falls--IN THE 10 YEARS since Jeff Kronenberg initiated his UI Extension food processing efforts in southern Idaho, he has brought educational, technical, and research services to Idaho’s food processing industries—currently the largest sub-sector of Idaho’s manufacturing complex.
After initially focusing on food safety, Kronenberg and the multi-university TechHelp partnership he serves expanded into lean manufacturing and artisan cheese making. Recently, he launched a new initiative to strengthen outreach in industrial dairy processing, with five workshops already under his belt and three more slated for spring.
Altogether 168 participants employed by at least eight Idaho dairy processors were attracted to the first five workshops in whey processing, industrial cheese making, pasteurization, dairy Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and evaporating and drying, which were taught by some of the nation’s foremost experts. At Glanbia USA in Twin Falls, human resources vice president Shawn Athay called the workshops “very beneficial” to the firm’s workforce development efforts.
With Idaho currently third in the nation in both milk production and cheese processing, Kronenberg says improvements in efficiency and vigilance in food safety are key to continued competitiveness. Industry representatives told him they “want local training—not in Wisconsin, California, or Utah—and they want it targeted to their plant operations personnel.”“We make huge volumes of cheddar cheese, whey, and milk powder in Idaho, and there are basic manufacturing concepts that are critical for new and existing employees,” says Kronenberg, WSU/UI School of Food Science.
“The processors want to make sure their operators are getting top quality training, and that’s what we’re doing.”$49.8 million impact. The UI Extension food processing program extends beyond public workshops and short courses to specialized in-house trainings and on-site technical assistance with firms making everything from appetizers to salad dressings.
Surveys commissioned by the National Institute of Standards and Technology—with which TechHelp is affiliated—show that Kronenberg has made a $49.8 million difference to participating firms in increased sales, reduced costs, and six other measured impacts since 2005.