Bel Brands USA Celebrates Official Opening of New Mini Babybel® Plant in Brookings, South Dakota

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-Bel executives from U.S. and Paris headquarters will join Federal, State, and Local political leaders and French Embassy representatives in Brookings for Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.-The new plant was built to meet growing demand for Mini Babybel®; sales of 100% natural Mini Babybel® cheese were up 24% in 2013.-Bel Brands USA has hired 215 new employees; employment at the plant will reach 250 by year end.

"We invested $144 million to build the new Brookings plant, which has a production capacity of 22 million pounds of Mini Babybel," said Frederic Nalis, CEO of Bel Americas and President and CEO of Bel Brands USA.

More than 200 invited guests are expected to join Bel Brands USA, a subsidiary of Paris-based Bel Group, to inaugurate its new Mini Babybel® plant in Brookings, South Dakota. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will celebrate the successful construction and commercial production of the new $144 million Mini Babybel facility.

The Brookings plant is the largest industrial capital expenditure in Bel Group’s history. Construction of the new 170,000 square-foot facility on a 48-acre site began in July 2012 and applies state-of-the-art and proprietary manufacturing processes developed in Bel’s Evron, France facility. The Company has already hired 215 new employees and is expected to have 250 hourly and salaried employees on staff by year-end 2014.

“Our Mini Babybel volumes have practically tripled over the past five years. Last year, sales of Mini Babybel increased by 24 percent,” said Frederic Nalis, CEO of Bel Americas and President and CEO of Bel Brands USA. “Today, Mini Babybel represents a third of our volumes. We invested $144 million to build the new plant, which has a production capacity of more than 22 million pounds, or approximately 1.5 million Mini Babybel portions every day.”    

Mini Babybel is a rich, creamy portable cheese that is 100% natural. Each piece of Mini Babybel is individually wrapped in its signature red wax and cellophane and comes in seven varieties. It is sold in retail grocery, specialty and club stores in mesh multi-packs and is also now available in new single serving units for convenience and drug store channels. Mini Babybel is a great snack choice and a lunch-box favorite that is high in protein and calcium. U.S. sales account for 75 percent of the brand sold outside France, where it was first produced, making the U.S. the #1 market for sales of Mini Babybel worldwide.

During the Inauguration Ceremony, Nalis and Bel Group Chairman and CEO Antoine Fiévet, will recognize Bel employee teams from the U.S. and France and project partners who were involved in setting up the plant and installing its proprietary manufacturing equipment.

"The inauguration of our third plant in the United States is a historic event for the Group," said Antoine Fiévet, the Bel Group's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "It incarnates our willingness to dare, which is one of our company values. We introduced Mini Babybel to the United States in 1979. Since then, the brand has established itself as a healthy and fun snack to be eaten on the go —making it particularly well suited to American eating habits. This new production site, which represents the largest industrial capital expenditure in our company's history, is fully in line with our growth potential on the American continent."

Bel officials will also thank state and local officials and members of the community for their support during the construction of the company’s third U.S. manufacturing facility. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, U.S. Senator John Thune, U. S. Congresswoman Kristi Noem; Arun Kumar, Director General of the U.S. Foreign Commercial Services and Assistant Secretary for Global Markets, and Brookings Mayor Tim Reed will join in the festivities and share remarks. Those in attendance representing the Embassy of France in the United States will include Vincent Floreani, French General Consul for the Midwest, and Christophe Malvezin, Agricultural Counselor, Economic, Trade and Treasury Department. Members of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development will join others in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

In addition to the Brookings plant, Mini Babybel is produced in the Company’s Leitchfield, Kentucky, plant, which is also the sole U.S. production facility for The Laughing Cow® cheese wedges. For the foreseeable future, Bel Brands USA will rely on production of Mini Babybel in Brookings and Leitchfield. Certain Mini Babybel products will also continue to be sourced from the Evron facility.

The Brookings Mini Babybel plant will use about 500,000 pounds of milk per day, which is being purchased through two dairy co-ops in the region, Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes.

About Bel Brands USA
Bel Brands USA, Inc., headquartered in Chicago, manufactures and markets Bel’s global branded Mini Babybel®, The Laughing Cow®, and Boursin®, as well as local brands including Merkts®, Kaukauna®, Price*s Pimiento®, Wispride ® and Owl’s Nest. Bel Brands USA operates three productions sites: Brookings, South Dakota; Leitchfield, Kentucky; and Little Chute, Wisconsin. The mission of Bel Brands USA is “To delight people with a great tasting, unique cheese experience that fits their lifestyle.” Bel has nearly 900 employees in the U.S. For six years in a row, Bel Brands USA has been named one of Chicago’s “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For”. Bel Brands USA is a subsidiary of Paris-based Bel Group, a world leader in branded cheeses. For more information, visit or or on Twitter: @belbrandsusa.

About Bel Group
Bel Group is a world leader in branded cheese. Its portfolio of differentiated and internationally recognized brands, including such products as The Laughing Cow®, Kiri®, Mini Babybel®, Leerdammer®, and Boursin®, as well as some 20 local brands, enabled the Group to generate sales of $3.5 billion in 2013. Nearly 11,000 employees in some 30 subsidiaries around the world contribute to the Group’s success. Bel products are prepared at 28 production sites and distributed in over 130 countries. Visit for more information.

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Kimberly Mulcahy
Bel Brands USA
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