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Nourishing Our Children

Valley Queen Cheese Factory Expands Into Infant Formula Ingredient Market

This is the third in a series spotlighting four of the eleven companies who will be traveling with Gov. Dennis Daugaard on his third trade mission to China this week.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Valley Queen Cheese of Milbank is hoping its new Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) is just what the Chinese consumers are looking for to keep their babies healthier and happier.

Production of Valley Queen’s newest product, WPC, will begin later this year. WPC is a common ingredient in infant formula. “China’s need for infant formula is really booming,” said vice president of sales Jason Mischel. “Our mission when we travel to China this week is to visit with infant formula manufacturers to determine how our whey protein can fit into that market.”

So why the sudden infant formula-boom? Mischel says it’s because Chinese consumers are beginning to adopt more of a western diet and increasing incomes make infant formula more affordable for China's growing middle class. Social policy is also playing a key role.

“There’s a huge surge in infant formula because China’s government has relaxed the ‘one-child’ policy,” Mischel said. “More children mean more opportunities for infant formula.” Mischel believes the market is expected to double in size in the next three years.

Dairy products manufactured in the United States are viewed favorably by Chinese consumers.  Tainted infant formula in 2008 sickened more than 300,000 children and created understandable mistrust of Chinese brands.  For that reason, China’s infant formula market is currently controlled by foreign brands. It is primarily manufactured in the United States or Europe and exported to China.

“We believe we can provide high-quality dairy proteins to infant formula manufacturers,” said Mischel.  “We want to be part of a supply chain that manufacturers products that Chinese consumers can trust.”

Valley Queen Cheese Factory, Inc., based out of Milbank, S.D., was founded in 1929 by two Swiss immigrants, Alfred Nef and Alfred Gonzenbach. To date, Valley Queen Cheese is one of the largest manufacturers of reduced fat cheese in America.

The South Dakota delegation leaves on Friday, and will return a week later. For more information about Valley Queen Cheese Factory, visit

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Members of the media requesting more information should contact Natalie Likness at or (605) 773-3301.