Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More on Maple Hill Creamery

It’s not often that when you call a yogurt company the person answering the phone is one of the operation’s principals and is overseeing actual yogurt production at that very moment.

But that’s exactly what happened when I called Maple Hill Creamery, the makers of a splendid organic, 100 percent grass-fed, whole milk yogurt that I wrote about yesterday, and spoke with Tim Meck.

Meck and his brother-in-law Tim Joseph are the two yogurt makers, while their wives, Julia (Tim’s sister) and Laura, respectively, handle marketing and a myriad of other duties.

Maple Hill started making yogurt in Ma
y 2009 after transitioning from a more conventional dairy farm.

“Tim had been a dairy farmer for eight or nine years,” Meck said. “He had been organic for four or five years, selling to Organic Valley, but milk prices were terrible so he decided to get into the creamery business to save the farm.”

The three others, all with other jobs at the time, decided to make the operation a group venture.

Maple Hill’s first break was getting into New Amsterdam Market, a public market in lower Manhattan. A food distributor liked the product and sold it to a few specialty stores in the Northeast. Maple Hill, now with a handful of distributors, can be found in major retailers such as Whole Foods and Fairway.

Maple Hill sits on 500 acres in Little Falls, NY, about halfway between Albany and Syracuse. All of the milk used in the yogurt production comes from the farm’s 120 heifers (young females yet to have calves), about half of which are being milked.

While that is obviously a positive for consumers who want to know where there food comes from, what happens when demand increases beyond current supply capabilities?

“We are trying to figure out the next step,” Meck said. “How do we scale up?”

One possibility, according to Meck, is to use milk from like-minded organic family farms. This won’t hinder accountability, though.

“The yogurt will still be 100 percent traceable to each individual farm,” Meck said.

1 comment:

WordVixen said...

My favorite yogurt is much like yours, with the exception that they source their milk from another creamery that sources their milk from 100% grassfed, family farms. Terrific stuff. They also only sell full fat yogurt, using natural ingredients (I'm not sure if their sugar is organic or not, but their maple flavor is just yogurt sweetened with maple syrup). Because they use Jersey milk, the full fat is truly full fat!

Sometimes, it pays in more than one way to buy local. :-)