Tillamook County Creamery fuels rapid growth with new products, new distribution & new look

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Tillamook County Creamery fuels rapid growth with new products, new distribution & new look

Related tags Dairy Innovation

As Tillamook County Creamery Association marks its 110th anniversary, the farmer-owned cooperative is growing faster than ever with new products, a fresh look and rapidly expanding distribution.

With annual sales nearing $1 billion, Tillamook’s revenues have grown rapidly under CEO Patrick Criteser’s oversight from $477 million when he took the helm in 2012 to $800 million in 2017, according to the company.

Much of this growth has come from product innovation, including more launches in the past four years than the preceding 40, according to the company. Among these is a line of Cheeseboards that hit select markets in the Pacific Northwest this month.

The Cheeseboards, which pair Tillamook cheese, olive oil crackers and artisanal fruit spreads, are designed to be a premium product that reminds consumers to savor the eating experience – something that has become a bit lost in today’s on-the-go culture, said Joe Prewett, executive vice president for the brand.

“Snacking has become all about what people should eat versus what people want to eat and that is what led us to create the Cheeseboards. It is about asking people to take a moment to enjoy their food and have an indulgent experience,”​ similar to what they might have in a restaurant, while “at the same time meeting their health expectations with protein and satiety,”​ he said.

Looking forward, Prewett said future innovations will be “less and less category focused”​ and instead will aim to find the “intersection between where do we think consumers are heading and the capability we have to meet people.”

For example, he said Tillamook will strive to provide snackable options as well as be a part of meal solutions and the indulgent space.

A new look

As the company sails into what it hopes will be the next 100 years of business, it decided to update and streamline its brand identity and packaging design.

The new logo is a modern twist on version used in the 1950s and is filled with symbols that represent where the brand originated and where it is heading.

For example, the brand identity still includes the Morning Star ship, which was used to transport the company’s product up through the Columbia River to Portland, Ore., where the company was founded. Below the ship is an arrow pointing from left to right across the package – a direction that mirrors where the company is headed in real life.

“That arrow, just like the Morning Star ship that sailed through the Columbia River to Portland was heading east, represents a lot of the work we are doing now at Tillamook to bring our product east from Oregon to the rest of the country,”​ Prewett said.

As for the packaging, the company “wanted to clean up the appearance and offer a simpler proposition to the consumer with increased readability and shopability of the brand,”​ Prewett said.

To do this, the company undertook a “ranking exercise of what we felt was more relevant to the consumer as they are making decisions at store shelves,”​ he said.

Among the claims that were dropped from the new packaging is ‘natural cheese,’ which Prewett explained the company did because it felt like its company name already was synonymous with natural cheese as it does not have any shelf stable or imitation products in its portfolio.

A claim the brand felt was important to keep as part of the brand identity and packaging is that it is farmer-owned. Indeed, it elevated and expanded this claim by also adding that the company was established in in Oregon in 1909.

“Adding Oregon was a controversial decision, but we are becoming more widely distributed across the country so we felt like it was important for people to know what ‘Tillamook’ means, which is a place in Oregon, and so we added that,”​ Prewett said.

He also noted many premium products are associated with specific places and by adding Oregon to the packaging and brand identity it is elevating its products.

The new look also unifies the company’s rapidly expanding portfolio across all the categories, he noted.

We have expanded the scope of our portfolio quite a bit in the last five years, which has placed a lot of pressure on the continuity of the brand and its consistency. So, it is time for us to think through what we have done and if a consumer is approaching Tillamook from sour cream or shredded cheese that they know it is Tillamook and the look and feel is consistent across the business,”​ he explained.

Even as the brand created unity among its diverse products, it also added variety, such as by changing the background color of its tubs of ice cream from a consistent beige to brighter, bolder hues that are different for each flavor – making it easier for consumers to shop by color to more quickly find their favorite options

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