Food Processing Center hosts Creamery Managers conference

The University Creamery Managers Association gathered at UNL last week.
The University Creamery Managers Association gathered at UNL last week.

From Berry Alvarez in Wisconsin to Muscadine Ripple in Mississippi, ice cream flavors galore — and the bright minds that make them — gathered last week at UNL's Food Processing Center for the University Creamery Managers Association conference.

Each summer, the UCMA meets to talk shop, exchange ideas and stories, listen to speakers on a variety of dairy topics and enjoy each other’s company. This year, the UNL Dairy Store and the Food Processing Center had the honor of hosting the conference. The group toured facilities at UNL, Jisa Farmstead Cheese and Branched Oak Farm, and ate dinner at James Arthur Vineyard during the two-day event.

“You know, we all get stuck in our own four walls (at our facilities),” said Bill Klein, manager of UW-Madison’s Babcock Hall Dairy Plant. “This is our chance to compare notes -- and it’s a lot of fun, too.”

Attendees ranged from Washington State and BYU in the west, Mississippi State, North Carolina State and Berry College (Ga.) in the south, Cornell in the northeast and neighbors Kansas State, South Dakota State and Wisconsin.

“Everybody runs their operation a little different,” said Jason Huck, general manager of dairy operations at Cornell in upstate New York. “But we have a lot of the same headaches and challenges, and this is a good opportunity to vent and share stories.”

The list of speakers included UNL professors Robert Hutkins, Andreia Bianchini and Joseph Baumert, who discussed food safety, quality and the processing and control of allergens in the dairy industry. Steve Maly, of Maly Marketing, discussed social media marketing with attendees and Brad Massey, of, presented the ins and outs of shipping ice cream.

"The conference is an invaluable networking opportunity and a lot of fun besides,” UNL Dairy Plant Manager Jonathan Hnosko said. “It is a truly unique experience to interact with such a dynamic group. We were honored to host this year."