LA FARGE, Wis., April 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Organic Valley, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands, today announced it has welcomed 17 new Grassmilk milk farmers in the Northeast to increase production of its Organic Valley Grassmilk milk products. The farmer-owned Cooperative now has a total of 81 Grassmilk milk farms producing Organic Valley Grassmilk milk products, including Grassmilk milk, Grassmilk Cheese, and Grassmilk Yogurt. Additional Grassmilk milk products are currently in development, and more Grassmilk milk farmers are expected to join the cooperative next year.
The new Organic Valley Grassmilk milk farmers hail from New York and Pennsylvania and are connected with a new milk route winding between the states from Canastota, New York to Gillet, Pennsylvania. It is then transported to Mountainside Farms in Roxbury, New York, where it is packaged. With Organic Valley's regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support local economies.
New York and Pennsylvania have long been important member states for Organic Valley. Today, Organic Valley has 158 farmer-owners in New York and 205 in Pennsylvania who produce organic milk and dairy products, including Grassmilk milk, eggs, produce, beef and feed.
While all Organic Valley milk is sourced from pasture-raised cows grazing in lush pastures and exceeding USDA pasture policy for organic ruminants, Organic Valley Grassmilk milk takes it one step further. The cows are 100 percent grass-fed and eat only fresh grasses and dried forages, like hay. They do not eat supplemental grains, like corn or soybeans.
Nutritionally, Organic Valley Grassmilk milk is full of naturally-occurring calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Health benefits of grass-fed milk, including Organic Valley Grassmilk milk, have been found numerous times in scientific studies and metanalyses, including a Washington State University study published December, 2013 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE and a Newcastle University study published February, 2016 in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Organic Valley has a long history of commitment to grass-fed dairy. In 2011, Organic Valley was the first national brand to launch a100 percent grass-fed milk nationwide and trademarked the Grassmilk term. In 2012, Organic Valley began producing Organic Valley Grassmilk milk in northern California's Humboldt County. In 2013, Organic Valley expanded production to Wisconsin and increased distribution to national. Unlike grazing in the Humboldt County's temperate climate, producing Grassmilk milk in the Heartland required comprehensive agricultural study to replicate best practices. Organic Valley adapted the program to Midwest farmers and brought Organic Valley professional staff, including veterinarians and soil agronomists, to extensively study the farms and provide support to farmers concerning herd health, nutritional quality and soil health.
In 2015, Organic Valley launched Organic Valley Grassmilk Yogurt in plain and vanilla flavors. The yogurt is made from whole Organic Valley Grassmilk milk and cultured in small batches and cup-set for artisanal quality. Like all Organic Valley products, Grassmilk Yogurt carries the USDA Organic seal, and is produced without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs.
Consumer demand for grass-fed dairy products has warranted the expanded production and development of product lines. The NASFT Winter Fancy Food Show producers and Whole Foods Market analysts recently named "grass-fed" a top food trend. Consumer demand for organic, grass-fed yogurt is exploding. The category is experiencing 82 percent dollar growth, more than three times the growth of yogurt without the "grass-fed" claim. Sales for Organic Valley Grassmilk milk is growing at double digits in all channels and together with the Grassmilk Yogurt, is the #1 grass-fed dairy brand.
While consumers have eagerly embraced 100 percent grass-fed products, currently no unified standard defines the claim. Any farm or brand can apply a grass-fed claim to its packaging and its marketing, regardless of whether the cows ever see a pasture. As the national leader in 100 percent grass-fed dairy, Organic Valley recognized the need for a collaborative group of 100 percent grass-fed producers to agree on standards. In spring 2015, Organic Valley hired Mark Lipson, former USDA organic policy advisor and current research associate at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz, as a consultant. Lipson was tapped to convene and facilitate a team of stakeholders led by the American Grassfed Association (AGA) that includes Organic Valley, organic certifiers, producers, manufacturers, retailers and farmers. The objective of the group is to recommend a common industry standard for 100 percent grass-fed dairy products. The result of this collaborative process should protect and benefit farmer and consumer alike and maintain integrity of grass-fed dairy product claims.
Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents more than 1,800 farmers in 36 states. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs and produce, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support local economies. For further information visit www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.
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SOURCE Organic Valley