Mayfield packages ice cream in 56-ounce bricks (shown) and also 48-ounce scrounds. Ice cream for foodservice account is packaged in 3-gallon tubs that are constructed in the plant.

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Technicians in the on-site quality manage lab check fresh and also frozen finished products. Samples room pulled from the production line throughout the job to assure consistency.


The Mayfield Dairy ranches plant spans Madison way in Athens, Tenn. A blowmolding operation is on one side and the milk and also ice cream handling operations room on the other. The site also includes a visitors’ center.



The signature yellow gallons are blowmolded on-site. The plant additionally makes jugs for sister tree in Birmingham, Ala., and Braselton, Ga.


The casual visitor come Athens, Tenn., would have no idea the dairy assets produced here are shipped throughout united States. Also residents of this little town, situated in the southeast edge of the state, most likely do not recognize that Mayfield Dairy ranches makes ice cream for various other companies to market in groceries stores throughout the country.

Mayfield’s dairy products plant, located simply north the downtown Athens, is a sprawling complex. Chauffeurs of milk tankers inspect in at one building prior to unloading at the plant. ~ above one side of Madison Avenue, raw milk is processed into white milk, coco milk, buttermilk and other fluid products. In one more section that the plant, some of the 200-plus employees also manufacture a wide selection of ice cream products, varying from 14-ounce containers come 3-gallon foodservice tubs.

Across Madison Avenue, a blow-molding operation is constantly production Mayfield’s above bright, opaque yellow jugs that maintain the milk’s freshness by blocking the end the UV light that breaks under nutrients and affects milk’s taste.

Mayfield Dairy ranches is one of the operating devices of Dean foods Co. The Dallas-based company is the second-largest processor ~ above the dairy products 100, this magazine’s yearly ranking of dairies doing business in phibìc America. Corporate profits in 2014 totaled $9.5 billion. Yet measured by plants, Dean foods items is the largest. It has actually 67 framework manufacturing liquid milk, ice cream and cultured products.

The Mayfield division serves ripe Southeastern states. It likewise operates a milk tree in Braselton, Ga., and also an ice cream cream tree in Birmingham, Ala. Mar Williams is general manager of the Mayfield division. Scott Watson is the plant manager of the Athens operation.

They and also the 205 production employees in Athens have actually their work cut out for them. That’s because Mayfield recently landed ice cream cream organization in Florida and Louisiana because no Dean department was offer those states with ice cream cream. That new business keeps the freezers churning, as does the co-manufacturing agreement with Boardwalk Frozen Treats to produce Baskin-Robbins’ 14-ounce containers sold at grocery stores throughout the joined States. (The Birmingham plant manufactures Baskin-Robbins foodservice tubs because that scoop shops in 43 countries.)

On the liquid side, Mayfield bottles Dean’s DairyPure white milk and also TruMoo cacao milk products. These room co-branded through Mayfield’s name.

Blow-molding plastic milk jugs

Mayfield produces its very own half-gallon and gallon jugs. It has six punch molders of differing capacities, native four-head come eight-head machines. Mayfield party its milk in shining yellow jugs, i m sorry protects milk from destruction by ultraviolet light. The equipment also makes jugs in “natural” plastic for private label customers. Besides creating bottles for this plant, Mayfield is make plastic containers for sister plants in Braselton and also Birmingham.

Because the fillers can fill bottles much faster than the blow molding devices can make them, Mayfield demands to save a steady supply ~ above hand. Bags the 48 gallon jugs and also 108 half-gallon jugs space staged in this room. Totally automated baggers wrap the bottles in plastic. Likewise, completely automated de-baggers eliminate the plastic and place the bottles back on the conveyor system that gives the fillers.

The dairy also bottles milk in plastic pints and also half-pint bottles. (A big customer is McDonald’s restaurants, which buys white and chocolate milk in the half-pint size.) Bottles come from suppliers and are fed into a hopper and also then top top conveyors. The party go through a labeling maker and a shrink tunnel. One unscrambler place the party in single file order and they then move to an buildup table and paper up one elevator come the pour it until it is full room. A performance innovation team looked at ways to enhance this process and tweaked the tools to make the bottles flow more smoothly v the system. Another advancement eliminated jams on the elevator.

Receiving milk, orange juice, sugar

Mayfield receives 25 come 28 milk tankers a day, every job of the week, from 7:30 to 3:30. Tankers from surrounding farms pull right into a building across the street indigenous the plant prior to they off-load the milk. Tankers are weighed top top a van scale and also Mayfield paint, etc samples. If the milk passes organoleptic and antibiotic tests, the trucks continue to the four-bay receiving area at the plant. After unloading, the trucks are washed and sent earlier on the road. Mayfield also takes in orange juice concentrate at this receiving area; another part of the tree accepts deliveries of liquid sugars.

At one more receiving area the the plant, empty milk instances return native customers. 2 lines the conveyors feed the situations into one ultrasonic case washer. The ultrasonic action knocks the dirt off the cases, which room then washed, sanitized and also stacked. Later, this clean situations will it is in filled through product and staged in the cooler. In the cooler, there room two palletizers staging the cases for delivery.

The plant in Athens has actually capacity to save 275,000 gallons of raw milk. It has four 10,000-gallon pasteurized tanks and two 15,000-gallon tanks. In addition, the plant stores cream in four 5,000-gallon tanks. Because Mayfield also makes ice cream here, the occasionally has to buy added cream. One source is Knoxville milk processor Weigel’s (which to be featured in the April 2012 issue).

The handling rooms have three high temperature/short time pasteurizers because that milk and one for ice cream cream. It has three separators, which range in volume from 4,000 come 9,500 gallons per hour. Buttermilk is a renowned beverage in the Southeast, and also Mayfield is up to the job of supplying its customers through the cultured drink. There are enough vats to make practically 15,000 gallons of buttermilk per day. The tangy dairy products beverage is also used to bake buttermilk biscuits. The Cracker Barrel restaurant chain is a customer, purchase buttermilk in half-gallons to be offered in that is biscuit recipes.

The pour it until it is full room to be abuzz throughout Dairy Foods’ visit. Mayfield has nine fillers, including a 24-valve unit for plastic half-gallons, a 30-valve unit because that plastic gallons and a 36-valve unit because that plastic 8-ounce and also pints bottles. There are three half-pint fillers that can likewise accommodate 4-ounce paper containers. Mayfield puts labels on the front and also side the its branded gallons. Gallons created other customers receive only a front label.

Record rates of production, by machine, are provided on plaques installed roughly the plant. The boards keep in mind the machine, the throughput accomplished and the team members operation the filler and its support devices at the time.

Mayfield renders ice cream, too

As detailed above, not countless fluid milk plants also make ice cream cream. Besides making a full variety of ice cream assets (from premium to light to no street added), Mayfield also makes frozen yogurt and a frozen dairy product dessert dubbed Snow Cream.

Ice cream manufacturing starts in ~ 6:30 a.m. An operator in the regulate room dials in the mix. Dry ingredients and also packaging come indigenous a 30,000-square-foot off-site warehouse.

Milk, cream, condensed milk, sugars and powders are combined in any type of of the three 2,000-gallon batch tanks. After the powders are totally hydrated, the mix is pumped to the pasteurizer and then come the flavor vats, wherein colors and also flavors space added. Specific flavors flow from large pressurized totes. Mayfield provided to pour seasonings by hand from gallon jugs but the totes allows for more precise dosing. Mayfield supplies a liquid chocolate that “explodes” into chips as soon as it access time the cold ice cream cream mix, stated Scottie Mayfield, a grandson of the founder and also the this firm chairman emeritus.

 On the work of our visit, operator were filling 48-ounce scrounds (which receive an inside seal), 56-ounce bricks and 3-gallon tubs. The plant also fills 14-ounce document containers for Baskin-Robbins. Novelties are created in the Alabama plant.

Mayfield renders the 3-gallon document tubs used by foodservice accounts. It offered to usage a steel ring to host the top and also bottom that the can in place. Because that safety reasons (cut fingers), the dairy adjusted to metal-less cans. Rather of a metal ring, the cans are held together by a plastic pickled in salt on the top and also a food-grade adhesive on the bottom.

Once filled, the packages have codes printed on the container. They pass v a vision device to guarantee that the lid and the cup match. Then they happen through steel detectors and also checkweighers.

Then the packages are conveyed to the hardening room. Mayfield has actually two techniques to acquire the ice cream cream come a rock-hard state. One is a blast freezer (the dairy has two units) and also the various other a bowl hardener. In the frozen warehouse, one-rim and two-rim cranes pick pallets for delivery to customers. The customer basic is growing. In the critical year, Mayfield included supermarket customers in Florida and Louisiana. Those were far-ranging acquisitions; no Dean division had been serving those states with ice cream cream.

In addition to making certain the tools runs properly, Watson keeps clock on food safety and employee safety. In the on-site quality control lab, the technicians are experimentation both fresh and also frozen finished products. The laboratory tests samples transparent the day to assure consistency. The rap is also performing tests for butterfat, solids and brix. Climate there space tests because that coliform, direct micro count (DMC) and psychrotrophic organisms. Watson likewise said there space hanging drop, phosphatase and also allergen verifications tests. For packaging, there room die checks on half-pint cartons of institution milk and fill weights. Technicians reduced open ice cream packages to look for proper distribution that inclusions and variegates. Over there are additionally taste tests and also other organoleptic examinations.

Depending top top the test, close to infra-red lab tools can administer the outcomes in seconds. Yet when they require to, laboratory technicians can conduct the slower Babcock tests that every food science major learned in college.

Regular communications

Plant managers hold regularly booked daily and also weekly meetings to recognize issues and upcoming production needs. Line employees go through monthly cultivate on plant safety and also food safety, and are tested with record or online tests come gauge your comprehension. Every department (such together receiving, handling or filling) tracks crucial performance indicators. The results are shown on white boards outside the manager’s office. Those created in eco-friendly are outcomes that accomplish or exceed targets. Those written in red indicate innovation is needed.

Four interaction stations, consisting of flat-panel televisions, are set up in employee break rooms throughout the plant. Watson have the right to push out messages of interest to employees, as can the that company office.

Both the fluid side and also the ice cream cream next of the plant have earned Level 3 certification in the for sure Quality foods items initiative. In addition, the commonwealth Food and Drug administration inspects the plant, as does the Tennessee room of Agriculture. Dean foods items has its own quality audits of its 60-some handling plants. This intramural compete keeps every plant manager striving come improve.

Mayfield’s Birmingham plant obtained the Dean foods CEO high quality Award for ice cream in 2013 and 2014. Criteria encompass SQF scores, training participation and consumer complaint improvement. The evaluate committee also considers high quality innovations, best practices and firm culture. Eddie Allen is the plant manager in Birmingham.

In announcing the compensation in May, Dean CEO Gregg Tanner said, “Dean foods holds its plants to very high standards, make for an especially stiff competition bordering this award. We room delighted with Mayfield’s excellence in protecting top quality from farm yard to table, and we’re proud to hold them increase as an example for the 2nd year in a row.”

Mayfield has been making dairy product products due to the fact that 1923. At the time, only inhabitants of McMinn County, Tennessee appreciated them. Today, consumers throughout the united States and throughout the people enjoy the dairy foods and beverages do in Athens, Birmingham and Braselton.


Mayfield dairy products Farms, Athens, Tenn.

Interstate Milk Shippers tree 47-131Raw milk score 90; enforcement score 97 (July 2015).

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Year built: 1950Products made: milk, buttermilk, orange juice, teas, lemonades, ice cream, frozen yogurtProduction employees: 205 in the milk and ice cream plantsPasteurization: high-temperature/short timeMilk fillers and also formats: 9 fillers, consisting of two 24-valve systems – one for plastic half-gallons and also another one because that plastic quarts; a 30-valve unit and a 28-valve unit for plastic gallons, 36-valve unit for plastic 8-ounce and pints bottles. There are three half-pint fillers that can additionally accommodate 4-ounce boxes and also a dispenser bag filler.Ice cream fillers and formats: 7 fillers, 14-ounce and 16-ounce containers, 2 48-ounce scround fillers, 56-ounce bricks, 4 quart pails, 3-gallon foodservice tubs, quarts and half gallon ring plasticBlow molding: 6 punch molders through four, six and eight headsRaw milk storage capacity: 275,000 gallonsPasteurized milk storage capacity: 90,000 gallonsWarehouse: 30,000 square-foot offsite facility

Photos by Vito Palmisano