Billy Sims-China Food Group in Detroit says it will begin exporting whole and skim milk powder to China this year, and has started to plan for a $180-million production facility in a yet to be named location in Michigan.
“We have relationships with U.S. dairy producers to supply milk powder to China this year,” says Sims, a former Detroit Lions running back and co-chairman of Billy Sims-China Food Group. “In addition to sourcing and distribution, Billy Sims-China Food Group is developing a state-of-the-art plant to produce 480,000 pounds of whole- and skim-milk powder daily by 2017.”
The business includes Detroit businessman David “Chief” Tomby, co-chairman and director of marketing, along with Sims, a 1978 Heisman Trophy winner who played for the Lions from 1980 to 1984. Sims and Tomby have founded several ventures including a water purification company and a real estate firm.
Following his football career, Sims founded Billy Sims Barbecue, a Southwestern American restaurant chain with more than 40 outlets in the U.S. and metro Detroit locations in Lincoln Park, Royal Oak, Southfield, and Troy.
The milk powder company will supply China’s growing demand for U.S. dairy products. American dairy exports reached a record $6.7 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, in part due to a growing demand for dairy products in China.
“In addition to milk powder, the Food Group will partner with other companies to establish a food hub to manufacture snack foods, soft drinks, and a private-labeled salad dressing for the Chinese market,” says David Coleman, company president and CEO.
The plant operation will require an investment of $180 million. The company will employ about 150 workers in Michigan once operational.