PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tillamook Creamery plans to expand its operations in 2024 by opening a new ice cream manufacturing facility in Decatur, Illinois, the Tillamook County Creamery Association announced on Tuesday.

The farmer-owned dairy co-op currently owns and operates two manufacturing sites, both located in the state of Oregon. However, the association’s local facilities are mostly dedicated to cheese production.

Due to an increased demand for Tillamook ice cream, TCCA Executive Vice President of Operations Mike Bever said, the dairy giant will now look to expand by opening a plant dedicated completely to ice cream production.

“Consumer demand for Tillamook Ice Cream has grown exponentially over the past several years,” said Mike Bever, the executive vice president of operations 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.” 

Tillamook Creamery Visitor Center in Tillamook, Ore. (courtesy: Tillamook Cheese)

The association says that the Decatur plant will manufacture “family-sized” 48-ounce tubs and 3-gallon “food service” bins of Tillamook ice cream.

The proposed Decatur plant was previously owned and operated by Prairie Farms, which used the location for ice cream production prior to closing the facility in 2022. TCCA said that it will spend the next 18 to 24 months upgrading the facility and bringing it up to its manufacturing quality standards. 

Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe praised Tillamook for purchasing the currently empty plant and bringing roughly 45 jobs back to the Decatur area.

“Tillamook’s plans to operate here are very exciting for our community and we are proud that another company has chosen Decatur for their first Midwest facility,” Wolfe said. “This project also advances Neighborhood Revitalization, as the now-empty building along the MLK corridor will again be a bustling part of our economy as soon as next year.” 

While Tillamook is expanding out of state for the first time, Bever said that TCCA’s headquarters will remain in Oregon, “where the co-op’s farmer-owners and many employees live and work.” The association said that it also has no plans of downsizing its current level of operations at either of its Oregon facilities and that the purchase of the facility is a tactic to further its growth in the Eastern half of 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,” Bever said. “In the last year, we’ve added 1.6 million households and grown ice cream sales nearly 60% in the eastern U.S.”

The facility is expected to reopen in October of 2024.