Cornell Food Processing Lab

Cornell Capabilities to Support Product, Process & Business Development

By Robert D. Ralyea, Senior Extension Associate

Cornell University’s Food Processing & Development Laboratory (FPDL) is housed within the Department of Food Science (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) in Stocking Hall on Cornell’s Ithaca, NY, campus. The Food Processing Development Laboratory (FPDL) is a 6,000 square foot processing facility located adjacent to Cornell University’s dairy plant. It is a fully licensed dairy plant inspected by NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Equipment available at the FPDL includes:

500 and 300 gallon semi-automated cheese vats
50 gallon semi-automated Double-O cheese vats
100 and 50 gallon vat pasteurizers
Large horizontal cheese press (88-2 lb wheel capacity)
HTST pasteurization system (with extended hold tube capable of up to a 4 minute hold)
5 gallon and 6 quart batch ice cream freezers
Yogurt incubation tanks (50 gallon to 400 gallon)
Automated Greek yogurt separator
Yogurt filler capable of filling 4 and 6 ounce cups (foil lid) with fruit on bottom
Niro atomizing tower spray dryer
Virtis freeze dryer
Pilot evaporator
Microthermics unit for prototype development for higher temperature pasteurization modeling

Cornell’s FPDL provides education, training and technical assistance for the production of value added food and dairy products throughout New York State. The FPDL serves as a statewide center for food and dairy processing education and training, product development and cutting-edge food processing research. It is a key resource supporting the long-term sustainability of value-added agricultural businesses (and their suppliers) across New York State. The FPDL is integrated within the Food Science program complex, in Stocking Hall, which is completing a four-year State University Construction Fund rehabilitation. As such, our goal is to help promote and grow dairy processing opportunities in New York State and to provide opportunities for agricultural producers to develop and market value-added products. The successful establishment and expansion of local, value added products also encourages the creation and expansion of other local business (farmer’s markets, restaurants, agri-tourism, marketing, etc.).

To facilitate dairy start-up companies and promote growth in the dairy industry, we offer a dairy processing incubator program that has been in place for the last 18 months. To qualify, you must be in NY State and be a small dairy business or be aspiring to start a business in dairy processing in NY. This is not an open-ended proposition, as you must sign agreements with Cornell University indicating your desire to start and grow a dairy processing-type business. You must have an approved business plan in place within 3 months of starting and must be planning to move out of our facility into your own facility within 12-18 months. You also provide the labor (although we do have Food Science students/interns that are available on certain days that we use to assist in production), and for set fees, we provide equipment to use. We will help with small product development projects provided you already have the concept. If you want us to do full blown product development, fees increase accordingly.

We also provide contract manufacturing support to start-up companies as well as established manufacturers developing new and innovative products. Examples of product development and research projects supported by the FPDL include dairy-based puddings, drinkable yogurts, fermented dairy beverages, flavored egg nog and other dairy related products. Because of our smaller scale equipment, our facility is ideal for manufacturing test runs of new formulations or producing consumer or shelf life testing type products on a relatively small scale, yet still mimic real production.

If you are interested in any of these programs, or would like more information on the facility, please contact Rob Ralyea at


Robert D. Ralyea

Last updated December 3, 2016