US-based California Dairies has announced it is to close its Artesia, California, manufacturing facility, effective immediately.

The decision affects some 49 employees.

The cooperative is said to be the largest member-owned milk marketing and processing cooperative in California, producing 40% of California’s milk.

California Dairies said the decision was an attempt to “navigate an ever-evolving marketplace”.

Brad Anderson, president and CEO of the Visalia, California-based company said: “We deeply regret the impact this decision will have on our Artesia employees and the community and are committed to supporting our employees through this transition.

“The Artesia plant has been a valued facility with a long history that has served California Dairies and its member-owners well. This decision is not a reflection of the hard work of our talented employees in Artesia.

“As we navigate an ever-evolving marketplace, with shifting regional milk supplies, we continue to evaluate our asset network, and the products we produce, to maximise value to our customers and member-owners.”

The Artesia facility will enter a period of shutdown. California Dairies said it will be working closely with impacted employees to assist them and their families.

The facility was constructed in 1958. In 1980 California Milk Producers operated at this location before merging with Danish Creamery and San Joaquin Valley Dairymen in 1999 to become California Dairies Inc.

California Dairies is co-owned by more than 300 dairy producers. It manufactures butter – notably the Challenge and Danish Creamery brands -, fluid milk products and milk powders.

In 2018, it announced the closure of its Los Banos manufacturing facility.