Brattleboro's Commonwealth Dairy wins USDA National School Lunch Program contract
BRATTLEBORO — Commonwealth Dairy's greek yogurt will continue to be found in school lunchrooms in Connecticut, Vermont and California.
According to a press release from the yogurt maker on Paul's Road in Brattleboro, Commonwealth Yogurt has been chosen as one of the suppliers of Greek yogurt for the USDA National School Lunch Program for April, May and June 2016, and will be the sole supplier of Greek yogurt in 32-ounce containers.
"Every quarter we submit a sealed bid and the USDA chooses a vendor based on pricing and quality," said Tom Moffitt, president of the facility in Brattleboro and CEO of Commonwealth's facility in Casa Grande, Ariz., which supplies its California contracts. Commonwealth Dairy was founded by Moffitt and Benjamin Johnson as a joint venture between Ehrmann USA Holding, Inc. a US subsidiary of Ehrmann AG.
Commonwealth Dairy, manufacturer of Green Mountain Creamery Greek yogurt, will supply 16,800 pounds of Greek Yogurt to schools in Vermont, Connecticut and California. In 2013, the USDA started to include Greek Yogurt as one of the food products schools are allowed to consider when spending federal money on the national school lunch program.
"It is one of our main goals to be involved with the community and this is a way for us to get our great yogurt and company exposed to not only students, but also to everyone else in the supply chain bringing healthy and tasty products to schools," stated Commonwealth Dairy's Director of Business Development Alfons van Heerwaarden, in the press release. "We believe that Greek yogurt is a really good source of protein for children in school. It is clean and affordable and this is one more way we can show that Greek yogurt is a good alternative for other proteins."
Moffitt told the Reformer that the USDA does not always take the lowest bid for its programs, but also takes into consideration quality, on-time deliveries and reputation of the producer.
"Our business with the USDA continues to expand, but the volume we sell to the program is relatively small compared to our overall business," he said.
Even though the quantity sold to the USDA is small, getting the Green Mountain Creamery brand into schools is priceless.
"It can expand our business with schools that don't participate in the federal program because you can say you are a federal supplier," said Moffitt. And with Commonwealth increasing its footprint in supermarkets, such as the Hannaford chain, having its brand in schools helps people also see it on retail shelves.
Commonwealth Dairy now employs more than 100 people in Brattleboro and another 100 in Casa Grande. Moffitt said recent expansions in Brattleboro have situated the company well to handle its rapid growth. "Our Green Mountain Creamery brand is our fastest growing product and we are filling up our production facility."
Commonwealth also co-packs product for retailers to sell under their own brand name. Currently, Commonwealth produces more than 100,000 cases of packaged yogurt per week, has numerous retail partners, and produces private-label products for more than a dozen companies.
"We're growing quickly, and working hard to maintain our commitments to quality, sustainability and innovation," stated van Heerwaarden.
The Green Mountain Creamery line of yogurts contains no artificial preservatives, additives or colorings and is made with only the purest ingredients including rBST free milk. Commonwealth Dairy returns 5 percent of its net profits directly back to the farmers who supply its milk.
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