Much like pearls cultivated after a grain of sand spends time inside an oyster, Organic Valley is celebrating the beautiful result of 30 years in business, a pearl anniversary that the cooperative celebrates with pride.
After three decades of hard work, the cooperative now celebrates $1.1 billion in annual sales, while going toe-to-toe with new challenges like innovation, farmers, and animal welfare. The cooperative’s business grew by over 4 percent in 2017, but an after-tax loss totaled $10 million, the first financial loss the cooperative has seen in 20 years.
“Organic Valley has flourished over the past three decades and exceeded our founders’ expectations in nearly every way,” said George Siemon, CEO. “Bumps in the journey, market fluctuations—they are inevitable. But our priorities are, and always have been, our farmer-members, our employees, our animals, and our consumers. We’re confident that as we continue to work together as a cooperative, we are a force for good in a troubled time.”
Again, just like irritating grains of sand that result in lustrous pearls, the cooperative reported in a press release that, even though it faced an after-tax loss, farmers are coming together to serve the common purpose and create better results moving forward—that is the beauty of our industry. This mirrors what the cooperative went through during the 1980s farming crisis, when farmers facing almost immanent bankruptcy decided that was not to be. Instead, the resilient farmers banned together to form a farmer-owned cooperative that keeps family farms thriving and brings healthy foods that taste great to dinner tables across the U.S. The result of this perseverance, you ask? A billion-dollar business strategy that proves doing things differently means making things work when the going gets tough.
The company reported that budgets tightened across the co-op during 2017, when farmers saw that the national average dairy pay price, $32.85 per 100 pounds, was almost double that of conventional marketplaces, regardless of the reduced amount paid for the co-op’s milk.
In addition to updates to the McMinnville, Oregon, creamery and introduction of a new cheese-cutting and ghee-production facility in Cashton, Wisconsin, during 2017, the co-op outlined the following completed measures to hunker down and push through, according to a press release:
“We’ll continue to pull together and ask everyone to do their part,” said Arnie Trussoni, President of the Cooperative’s Board of Directors. “We turned the numbers right side up in November and December, and plans are on the table to maximize organic milk utilization. We are a family, and we don’t leave one another behind. That’s what our cooperative is all about.”
The cooperative, however, is looking forward to furthering its development after celebrating its pearl anniversary and billion-dollar sales and weathering its changes that can be seen throughout the co-op’s structure.
Congratulations on the first 30; we at Deli Market News look forward to seeing you thrive in the next 30 and beyond!