To see how White Clover Dairy grew up to become Arla Foods, it helps to look at a series of aerial photos hung in the entrance hallway to this cheese plant in Hollandtown, Wis. In the first image there is a farmhouse near the original plant. Later images show how expansions to the plant crept closer and closer to the house. Eventually, the plant completely surrounds the farmhouse, and in the last image, the house is gone. These additions over the years turned the facility into a 110,000-square-foot plant.
Havarti, Gouda and Edam are cheese types from the Old World. But Arla is making them in Wisconsin. The CEO of the U.S. division of this European dairy co-op talks about Arla’s growth strategy here and its Cheddar cheese joint venture with Dairy Farmers of America.
The European dairy cooperative Arla Foods amba has set its sights on the United States. The strategic plan of this co-op based in Denmark states that the goal is to “excel in eight dairy categories; focus on six geographical regions and win as one united and efficient Arla.”
These are good times to be in cheese. It is a dairy food that consumers like and it can be packaged in formats that fit an on-the-go way of life. Dairy processors are investing in capacity to keep up with demand.
Neal Gottlieb, the founder of Three Twins Ice Cream, needed more capacity to keep up with demand for his organic ice cream. His facility in Petaluma, Calif., was maxed out. Adding shifts was not feasible. Gottlieb bid the work to co-packers but said their quotes were “sky-high” and the quality of the test runs was a “disaster.”
Three Twins Ice Cream has grown into the leading brand of organic ice cream in just 10 years. In the course of a decade, its gone from a scoop shop to owning manufacturing facilities in California and Wisconsin. A Three Twins cause-marketing program has conserved 8,000 acres of rain forest in South America. Through another program, the company donates 1% of its sales to environmental groups.
Chicago retailer Marshall Field famously said, “Give the lady what she wants.” A related axiom is “The customer is always right.” Here’s more good business advice: “Don’t insult your customers” and “Play it straight with consumers.”
Maryland's Kilby family has been farming for 100 years. To position itself for success into the next century, it built a dairy processing plant that bottles milk and churns ice cream under the name Kilby Cream.