NEW BERN. CRAVEN COUNTY -

Nearly 100 workers at the Maola Plant in New Bern learned Wednesday that they will be losing their jobs.

The company announced it will be closing its milk production operations at its New Bern plant on July 27, and 98 positions will be eliminated. Thirty positions will remain at the plant to handle maintenance, deliveries, security and human resources for three months to a year after that date.

Maola says it is relocating its operations to High Point and Newport News, Va.

The company says it's being forced to consolidate because of a decline in milk consumption and the competitive dairy market. Company spokeswoman Alyssa Brass says the relocation of the facilities will bring them closer to their consumers.

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw says he will work to get jobs to the area.

"These certainly are trying times for New Bern and for Maola," Outlaw said. "We want to remember the heritage and what Maola has meant to our community-- New Bern will move forward."

Maola started in Washington, NC in 1935.

The company released a fact sheet, along with its announcement.

FACT: Milk consumption is trending downward.
• Today, U.S. consumption of fluid milk is at an all-time low. Since 1970, per capita fluid milk consumption has fallen from 0.96 cups per day to an average of 0.61 cups per day.
• Since 2010, fluid milk consumption in the United States has dropped more than 7
percent.
• In 2013, fluid milk sales were down 2.3 percent in the southeastern United States,
including North Carolina.
• Volume sales of traditional milk (milk used to create dairy foods such as ice cream,
yogurt and cheese along with fluid milk) has decreased 4.5 percent nationally, while its price has increased 6.5 percent.

FACT: The costs of hauling fluid milk are rising.
• A significant geographic disparity in North Carolina is hurting our production costs. Milk hauling over longer distances to population centers drives up costs to companies like Maola.
• The state’s top milk producing counties – Iredell, Randolph, Yadkin, Alleghany, Alexander and Rowan – are all located in central or western North Carolina. They require anywhere from three to five hours to transport their products to New Bern. With rising fuel costs, this setup is not cost efficient for operations in the long term.
• In contrast, it will take less than half that time to ship milk to be processed at Hunter Farms in High Point, North Carolina instead of New Bern, saving substantial costs in gas and other production expenses.


FACT: The industry trend shows a consolidation of operations.
• Processing plants have been consolidating among large dairy processors nationwide for the last 20 years. Four major plants employing hundreds of individuals closed across the United States in 2013 alone, both traditional and fluid milk processors.
• These were Farmland Dairies in Wallington, N.J., in December (325 jobs lost), Goldenrod Plant in Madisonville, Ky., in October (139 jobs lost), Shenandoah’s Pride in Springfield, Va., in June (110 jobs lost) and Oak Farms in Waco, Texas in June (150 jobs lost).
• Competition for shrinking volumes and margins is intense among surviving processors and grocery stores typically discount milk heavily to generate traffic at processors’ expense.

FACT: What we are doing for our employees.
• We appreciate our hardworking employees and thank them for all they have done to help make Maola an iconic North Carolina brand.
• As such, we are working with the North Carolina Division of Workforce Solutions to provide on-site job assistance.
• In addition, our Human Resources Department will be providing resume writing and interview training sessions at the plant throughout July.