The brainchild of eight families based near Pavilion, NY, and the Dairy Farmers of America, Craigs Creamery makes award winning cheese with milk that goes from the cow to the creamery within hours, and is sourced and processed in a way that “respects” the environment and the land’s limited resources, Mihria Patel, marketing director for DFA, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“The eight family farms behind Craigs Creamery represent a progressive or modern attitude towards farming sustainably, and are really committed to creating naturally, nutritious food,” that meets the growing consumer demand to know more about where food comes from and how it is made, she said.
She explained that while the farmers value the “traditional goodness” of natural dairy, they use “cutting edge technology” in order to operate a more sustainable network of farms.
For example, she noted, “one of our family farms, the one that hosts the creamery, uses a sustainable bio-digester that powers the creamery. It is the only bio-digester in the US that is on a farm that also fuels an on-sight production facility.”
The bio-digester not only converts into energy animal and food waste from the farms, but also food waste from the local community, Patel said.
“In the past five years, this bio-digester has upcycled almost 20 million pounds of food scraps from the local community and nearby retailers that otherwise would have gone to a landfill. So, there is this aspect of not only producing a really great quality product, but doing it in a way that is really helping to preserve and reinvest in more energy,” she said.
The farms also use other “little touches” to improve the sustainability of their business, such as composting, assessing water and using solar panels, Patel said
Telling the farmer’s story
Craigs Creamery is sharing its sustainability story on its website, which Patel says will soon include a video of the bio-digester, which she acknowledges can be difficult to “wrap your head around” until you can see it in action.
The brand also will share “little stories” on the website that show the farmers as real people who are invested in the land not just for their families but for generations to come, she said. She also noted that the brand will convert these stories into experiences for consumers once the brand is more established.
Recognizing that not all consumers have time to visit corporate websites, the brand also is telling its sustainability story through its packaging.
“Packaging is the first moment of truth for most consumers and also the only thing that many consumers will ever see, so we are using it to bring to life the story of sustainability on the farms. We even have a little symbol for the bio-digester and the fact that this is all powered through that effort. So, that symbol will become a signal to consumers that there is something happening in the brand that impacts our environment and the sustainability of our food source,” Patel said.
Other call-outs on the package include “founded by 8 local New York Family Farms,” “Simply made with all natural ingredients,” and “’No added growth hormones.”
An award winning product line
While the focus on sustainability is key to the farmers who make Craigs Creamery products, they also recognize that for consumers taste is the most important quality, which is why the brand spent most of 2018 fine-tuning its products and seeking validation through cheese competitions.
Patel said the hard work paid off when the brand won an award for excellence at the 2018 New York State Fair and when its mild and medium cheddars were recognized at the 2018 Dairy Competition.
“These awards represent the time we took in 2018 to develop our cheese and get some feedback from experts so that we could ensure this is a really great product … and brand on shelf,” Patel said.
Getting the word out
Most of the young brand’s efforts in 2019 will focus on getting the word out about the brand, engaging consumers and expanding distribution, Patel said.
But even as the brand pursues business success, Patel said the farmers will not lose sight of their passion for and commitment to taking care of the land.
“Our farmers are the hardest working and they are in this for the long haul. So, we are not looking to become an overnight success, but rather taking a measured approach that will ensure our products are on the shelf for year to come,” she said.