With local farmers on the milk cartons and web site, consumers now have the opportunity to verify what’s long been known by members of the Organic Valley co-op – their milk really does travel the shortest distance from the farms to regional markets. It’s a national brand with regional production and distribution, and consumers in different regions all across the country think of Organic Valley as one of their local brands – because it is.
I’m proud of the work my team and I did to support the development and growth of the brand during my years at the co-op. I’ll always think of OV as a leader in sustainable food production. In addition to being tough on organic and pasturing standards, the co-op is an incredible model of local/national branding and business.
Knowing that the farmer identity was the most authentic and differentiating aspect of the brand, we went all out with 148 different milk cartons, a “farmer-finder” on the web site, and every imaginable way of getting the farmers to the people in their regions across the country. Often, that meant getting the people and the media to the farms, since it’s not easy to get a farmer off the farm.
We also took the organic brand directly to people through sampling and guerilla tactics that included culinary and education events and partnerships, as well as campy classics such as milk chugging contests and grilled cheese galas. And we made retailers our ambassadors by educating them at trade events, on the farms, and with our in-store programs.
The integration of these marketing programs strengthened a brand that continues to spawn new products. New and noteworthy are Organic Valley® Grassmilk and Organic Valley® American Singles – both made from the premium quality milk for which the co-op’s farms are consistently recognized. It’s no wonder they’ve outpaced the booming organic industry for years, now.
Today, I’m excited to be working with several new food companies. Good local stories are the right place to start, but it takes much more to get products into shopping carts. This is going to be fun!