Dairy Foods Blog

Better living through dairy

October 21, 2013

Trevor TomkinsBy Trevor Tomkins

After 40 years of working in the dairy industry, I wanted to put my passion, experience and worldwide dairy connections to work to advance dairying (and particularly small-holder farmers) in emerging markets around the world.

That is where the vision for venture|dairy began. Prior to venture|dairy, I was CEO of Milk Specialties Global, which I was fortunate to lead as we turned it into a half-billion dollar, industry-leading player over a 12-year period. In 2011, I helped guide the successful sale of the company to a management-led team and then created venture|dairy as a way to use my skills and expertise to begin the next chapter of my life.

The vision began with a not-for-profit organization that was established in 2010. Through the work of this not-for-profit, the need for a for-profit impact investment company that could provide larger investments to anchor dairy processing firms became apparent.

With my business partner at Milk Specialties Global, Mike Drennan, we formed venture|dairy enterprises to work with local businesses in emerging dairy markets. Our goal is ultimately to be the leading investment company in emerging dairy markets, working to establish sustainable enterprises that respect the environment, provide employment and improve human and animal nutrition in communities around the world.

Starting in Latin America

Our initial focus has been on Latin America and the Caribbean, East Africa and India. We have located no shortage of opportunities to use our value-chain-focused model to connect small producers to markets. By identifying an anchor processing firm capable of creating market demand for milk, greater volumes of high-quality milk from small producers can be “pulled” into the value chain. This milk can then be converted into a variety of superior-quality products to satisfy consumer demands and meet nutritional needs.

Through an enterprise- and market-based “dairy hub” approach, we are able to bring technology, tools and training to small dairy producers and add value across the entire dairy value chain.

We have reviewed and assessed a Nicaraguan dairy hub company (Cattle Hub|Nicaragua) for the potential to receive a larger investment. Over the past 14 months, the dairy hub approach implemented by Cattle Hub has demonstrated the large potential for adding value across the entire value chain.

The project began with 28 farms that are members of a local cooperative and is now expanding to include 300 other farms that sell milk to the cooperative. A neighboring cooperative of 950 farms has asked to join the program. In total, we estimate that at least 1,500 farms can be enrolled and improved over a five-year period.

The value of the dairy hub activities in increasing milk supply over five years shows $26 million of incremental contribution to the processor, over and above the base volume available. In addition, contributions of $5 million to the hub, $26 million to the farmers and $23 million to retailers are created. These are substantial incremental benefits to a dairy processing investment. The Cattle Hub’s activities are scalable with the resources applied to the local opportunities.

Investing in an anchor processor

We are investigating similar initiatives in East Africa and India where there are similar challenges throughout the dairy value chain, including lack of access to veterinary service, poor quality control and poor market connections for small producers. In these locations, our goal is to invest directly into an anchor processing firm that shares our vision to connect small producers to markets. Through this investment, we will work with a processor to develop dairy hubs that can improve the quality and supply of milk for the processor as well as improve producer livelihoods.

The opportunities are certain and the investment returns are significant, but more importantly, the potential to positively impact the lives of so many is without question, immense and undeniable.

Trevor Tomkins is the founder of venture | dairy, Chicago, www.venturedairy.com.

Dairy Foods seeks essays from dairy processors. Contact carperj@dairyfoods.com

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

4 mouth-watering grilled cheese sandwiches you have to make in April, National Grilled Cheese Month

In recognition of National Grilled Cheese Month (April), Arla Dofino asked two food bloggers to re-imagine this comfort-food classic.

Heidi Larsen of FoodieCrush.com and Maria Lichty of TwoPeasAndTheirPod.com created four grilled cheese sandwich recipes that call for creamy Havarti, dill Havarti, smoked Gouda and Eureka! Organic Breads products.

Arla Foods, a cooperative owned by European dairy farmers, is the fifth largest dairy company in the world. The Arla Dofino brand of cheese includes Havarti, Gouda, Edam and Fontina, which are made by the Hollandtown Dairy in Kaukauna, Wis.

3/31/15 2:00 pm EST

Raising the bar with in-line mixing and blending technologies: high output with flexibility and low costs

On Demand In this webinar, you will be introduced to advanced in-line blending, dosing and mixing technologies that offer high flexible productions, reduced product losses, shorter batch times, uniform products, and reduced ingredient costs. As a result, Food Manufacturers can optimize their productions and increase their profitability.

Dairy Foods Magazine

april df cover

2015 April

We look inside Kroger's Denver plant; Also, see what trends are happening in yogurt.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


What is your favorite way to eat cheese?
View Results Poll Archive


Tharp & Young on Ice Cream: An Encyclopedic Guide to Ice Cream Science and Technology

An at once an all-inclusive guide to the meaning of hundreds of technical terms and ideas needed for ice cream manufacturing, as well as a practical introduction to the ingredients, freezing methods, flavoring, and packaging of ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurts, novelties and many other kinds of frozen desserts.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook logo 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube logo 40px 2-12-13  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13google plus

Dairy Foods Buyers Guide

cover df july 2013Resource for buyers in the dairy processing industry to find information on the leading suppliers and manufacturers.

Find Ingredients, Equipment, Distribution, R&D and More.

Start Your Search Today.