Yogurt Dairy Farmers.jpg
In this Jan. 13, 2012 photo, Chobani Greek Yogurt is seen at the Chobani plant in South Edmeston, N.Y. The recent yogurt boom of upstate New York has meant more jobs and more economic activity. But it has not led to a bigger dairy herd in the state, even as mega-producer Chobani reaches beyond New York for some of its milk. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

New York state now the No. 1 yogurt producer in the U.S.

By: Troy Record Staff

ALBANY — New York state is officially America’s yogurt capital, surpassing California in 2012 as the top producer of yogurt in the United States, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced Thursday.

New York state yogurt processors produced 692 million pounds of yogurt in 2012 compared to 587 million pounds of yogurt in California. By comparison, in 2011, California produced 627 million pounds of yogurt, compared to 554 million pounds here in New York state.

While New York has recently gained a reputation as a national leader in Greek yogurt production, this is the first time since data on yogurt production has been available that New York has led the nation in all yogurt production. In the past five years, New York’s yogurt plants have nearly tripled in production, and milk production grew by more than one billion pounds. Most of the increase in yogurt production is due to the introduction and production of Greek style strained yogurt, which requires three times more milk than traditional yogurt.

Since taking office, Cuomo has rolled out a series of initiatives aimed to help the industry, including providing incentives for plant expansion and lowering costs for dairy farmers, which has led to increased milk production.

New York is also the fourth largest milk producing state in the country, producing 13.2 billion pounds of milk in 2012.

Cuomo convened the state’s first Yogurt Summit in August 2012 to bring together dairy farmers, yogurt producers and state officials to find new ways to support the industry’s growth in New York.

According to the governor’s office, since 2000, the number of yogurt processing plants in New York has increased from 14 to 27.

In 2011, New York’s dairy manufacturers employed an estimated 8,070 people with total wages of $414 million, a 14 percent increase from 2005. Dairy farming and processing combined presents a total impact of $8.9 billion to New York’s economy.