BAR HARBOR, Maine — Maine’s Own Organic Milk — or MOOMilk — will be available in grocery store dairy cases this weekend throughout Maine and in selected stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the company announced Thursday.
Produced by 10 Maine family organic dairy farms in Washington, Aroostook, Penobscot and Kennebec counties, the milk will be trucked by Schoppee Milk Transport of Holden to Smiling Hill Dairy in Westbrook for processing, then distributed by Oakhurst Dairy of Portland and Crown O’ Maine Organic Co-op of Gardiner.
“This truly is local milk,” said Bill Eldridge of Bar Harbor, MOOMilk’s general manager. “Customers who buy MOOMilk will know they are supporting the Maine economy by supporting Maine family businesses.”
In addition, Eldridge said, 90 percent of the profits from MOOMilk will be returned to the farmers.
“We aren’t a co-op,” he said. “We’re a special kind of low-profit business with a mission to make just enough to keep running and return most of our profits to the farms. Under our charter, we exist to help farm families stay in business by making enough to keep their operations viable.”
The farmers own part of the company and have three seats on the seven-member board of directors, he said.
Maine’s Own Organic Milk Co. was formed through the cooperative efforts of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Maine Farm Bureau and the Maine Department of Agriculture after the H.P. Hood Co. of Boston notified a number of Maine farmers that it would no longer be picking up their milk after last summer.
At the time, those farmers were faced with either going out of business or finding a conventional, lower-paying market for their milk. While there is good demand in Maine for organic milk, Eldridge said, the demand for local milk is greater. Finding a way to fit into both of those market niches is what made the project possible, he said, adding that every carton will feature a story about one of the 10 farms producing for the company.
MOOMilk will be available in half-gallon paper cartons in whole, 2 percent, 1 percent and skim. In coming months, the company will offer retail customers organic butter, cream and half and half, but for the startup these products will only be available to wholesale markets, Eldridge said. The milk will be homogenized and pasteurized, he said, also making it the only organic milk available in Maine that is not ultrapasteurized.
The farms shipping to Maine’s Own Organic Milk Co. are HB Farms, Woodland; Griffin Family Farm, Perham; Kauffman Family Farm, Smyrna; Oliver Farm, Hodgdon; Chase Organic Dairy Farm, Mapleton; Tide Mill Farm, Edmunds; James Pond Dairy, Charlotte; Rocky Ledge Farm, Perry; McKusick Dairy Farm, Dexter; and Windy Acres Farm, Clinton.