MPS Field Trip Season is Underway

MPS students and faculty prepare to tour the Leprino Foods mozzarella plant in West Lemoore, California.

The MPS field trip season is underway, and students are benefitting from a unique opportunity to get an inside look at some of America’s biggest and best dairy processing facilities.

“It’s really interesting,” said MPS student Ana Garcia, a 2017 UC Davis graduate. “The scale of production is amazing, and it’s great to see how these products are actually made.”

Most Fridays throughout the fall quarter, students will travel by van to nearby facilities, where they will tour operations, receive lectures and tutorials, and interact face to face with managers in the dairy processing industry. The field trips are an annual occurrence as part of the MPS program’s DSCI 510: Dairy Foods Issues and Practices course.

Students and faculty will visit seven plants and one large-scale dairy farm this fall, providing them with insight into a wide cross section of the dairy processing industry. Field trip locations include:

  • DFA, Turlock, CA • Provolone and Mozzarella cheeses, whey protein concentrate and deproteinized whey
  • Leprino Foods, West Lemoore, CA • Mozzarella cheese, cheese blends, whey proteins, and lactose products
  • Safeway, San Leandro, CA • Fluid milk, chocolate milk, extended shelf life products, half and half, egg nog, juices, almond milk, bottled water
  • Hilmar Cheese Company, Hilmar, CA • Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby cheeses
  • Hilmar Milk Powders, Turlock, CA • Whey protein, lactose, milk powders
  • Hydrite Chemical, Visalia, CA • Cleaning chemicals, including CIP cleaners, manual cleaners, acid and alkaline products, sanitizers, processing aids, membrane cleaners
  • Land O Lakes, Tulare, CA • Butter, cheese, dry milk products, fluid dairy products, nonfat dry milk, whey and whey products
  • Maddox Dairy, Riverdale, CA • raw milk, genetics, corn, grains, wine grapes, almonds
Leprino Foods in West Lemoore receives around 220 tankers of milk per day and produces more than 1.1 million pounds of mozzarella cheese per day, 365 days per year.

The field trips offer a rare glimpse into a hidden world to which few have access. For students in the MPS program, companies open doors that are usually closed to outsiders due to confidentiality and food safety concerns. Entering the plants requires signing nondisclosure agreements and adhering to strict sanitation and safety protocols.

On October 20, the class visited Leprino Foods in West Lemoore, California. As the largest mozzarella plant in the world, the company receives around 220 tankers of milk and produces about 1.1 million pounds of mozzarella every day.

Students enjoyed a one-hour lecture from Leprino Plant Manager Rob Tuttrup. In addition to explaining his role as manager of a 1,000-employee operation, Tuttrup provided students with personal anecdotes and career advice. Afterward, he led the group on a two-hour tour of the plant, which one student remarked was “as big as a small city.” Students then had the opportunity to ask questions of managers from various departments and learn more about the responsibilities, challenges, and rewards associated with different company roles.

Safeway QA manager Manjeet Kaur lectures MPS students about product quality and safety initiatives at the company’s San Leandro plant.

On October 27, the class visited Safeway’s San Leandro, California. plant. The plant produces fluid milk, chocolate milk, extended shelf life products, half and half, egg nog, juices, almond milk, and bottled water.

Two MPS graduates now working for Safeway, Haley Imhof and Mailyne Nguyen, provided plant tours and offered firsthand accounts of what MPS students can expect after graduating and entering the dairy processing industry.

Imhof manages the plant’s procurement process, purchasing around $1.5 million of ingredients and supplies every week. She also takes orders for the plant’s products and helps determine production volumes. “It’s fun to see our products in the stores,” said Imhof. “I’ve checked products in the marketplace, looked at the codes on the package, and said ‘yeah, we made that.’ And I know exactly when we made it and who was responsible.”

Nguyen is a product development manager and has helped launch a number of products that are now sold throughout Safeway’s retail chains. She recently helped develop a new ice cream line that is distributed through the chain’s retail stores. “It’s rewarding,” said Nguyen. “It’s hard work, but it feels good to develop products that so many people enjoy.”

MPS graduate and Safeway procurement specialist Haley Imhof discusses milk receiving protocols with a group of MPS students.

“Having MPS students visit the plant is valuable for us, too,” said Safeway plant manager James Mancuso. “At this point, I think we’ve hired MPS graduates into every one of our divisions, including operations, product development, food safety, ingredient sourcing, and quality assurance.”

Today MPS students will visit two Hilmar plants: a 1.4 million-pound-per-day cheese plant in Hilmar, California, that the company claims is the largest cheese plant in the world; and a whey processing plant in Turlock, California.

After a Veteran’s Day break, field trips will resume November 17, when students will visit the country’s largest butter plant, a Land O Lakes facility in Tulare, California, where nearly two thirds of the country’s butter is made.


Tom Photo 2015

For more information visit or contact:

Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell