Agri-Mark fosters a spirit of innovation
When dairy cooperative members sign off on investments, the dairy processing arm develops new products and formats. This yields a win for farmers, employees, customers and consumers.
Our farmers and employees appreciate the honor of being named the 2017 Dairy Foods Plant of the Year. This vote of confidence by one of our industry’s most trusted information sources reflects our entire industry’s commitment to making high-quality U.S. dairy products.
Like other co-op manufacturers, at Cabot we leverage a different kind of team. Our farmers own 100% of the co-op and our employees work collectively 24/7/365 to keep our plants running smoothly.
What it means to work like a farmer
Each step along the way, from farm barn to the dairy aisle, commands that we apply our own care and attention to every detail. “To work like a farmer” is our employee challenge, and each one of us delivers. We are all dedicated to our craft and work collaboratively to solve problems, ensure efficiencies, and produce award-winning dairy products. All 900 of us know that the bottom line of our cooperative is: Keep farmers farming.
The cooperative business model also means that our business is a two-way street. While our employees have the farms in mind, the farms also must show faith in their employees. The Agri-Mark board of directors is made up of active dairy farmers, each representing a geographic region within New England and New York. They make the final call on business decisions, including plant investments and whether new equipment will be purchased. Their willingness to continually invest allows for employees to do the best job possible and strengthens our business.
Cracker cuts required new equipment
A great example of this is found in our latest product offering: Cabot cracker cuts. This is sliced cheese in re-sealable packaging. Sales data for years indicated this segment of the dairy aisle was growing rapidly and we wanted to take part long before we could afford to do it.
Since Dairy Foods first visited our plant in Cabot, Vt., in 2015, the board of directors approved the purchase and installation of a new cutting and packaging line. Cabot cracker cuts are now in major Northeast markets in five different flavors and distribution will be expanding rapidly.
We don’t sit still and there is a spirit of innovation that informs all our departments. Whether it is a new line of premium Cheddars being developed, a new system for transferring milk more efficiently, updates to safety protocols or finding unique ways to connect to our loyal consumers, our cooperative spirit is always present. What that all adds up to is the ability to process more member milk.
In 2007, we processed 1.4 billion pounds of milk. In 2016, that number rose to 2.1 billion because of our strategic investments within our four facilities and following through on employee-driven ideas that improved throughput and quality.
The more milk we can take in from our member farms, means more profit we can return to our farmers, and the longer they can continue successfully farming. Keeping all our member farmers farming is our best bottom line for the strength of our business. Thank you to Dairy Foods magazine and all who voted.