TRENTON, Maine — Maine’s Own Organic Milk Co. has completed a round of refinancing that is “critically important in maintaining the sales momentum the company has generated here in Maine and southern New England,” according to executive director William Eldridge.
The partially farmer-owned dairy, known as MOOMilk, completed the financing package last week, bringing together a number of private investors as well as Coastal Enterprises Inc., the Finance Authority of Maine and Sunrise County Economic Council, a Washington County-based economic development agency.
The package was worked out over a period of several months and resulted in $750,000 of private investment capital coupled with $140,000 in loans from FAME and the Sunrise County council.
MOOMilkCo was founded in August 2009 after several small Maine family organic dairy farms had their milk supply contracts canceled by a national organic milk processor. The company began operations in October 2009 and by February 2010 was shipping cartons of MOOMilk to Hannaford, ShurFine and IGA grocery stores all over Maine, as well as to many Maine natural food stores and Whole Foods in Portland. Since that time, MOOMilk has expanded its sales into southern New England through Whole Foods and chains such as Crosby’s Marketplace in Massachusetts and Dave’s Fresh Marketplace in Rhode Islands. A planned expansion into Shaw’s stores in Maine is pending.
MOOMilk sells pasteurized organic milk in whole, 2 percent, 1 percent and skim lines. It is one of the few organic milks available in the region that is not ultrapasteurized. The milk is produced by several farms in Aroostook and Washington counties, hauled by Schoppee Milk Transport of Holden, processed at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, then distributed in Maine by Oakhurst Dairy of Portland and Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative of Vassalboro, all Maine family-owned companies. Distribution throughout southern New England is by Organic Food Exchange of Boston.
Eldridge praised the teamwork of everyone involved in the financing. Beyond the work done by the staff at FAME, Coastal Enterprises Inc. and Sunrise County Economic Council, he said Russell Libby of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Maine Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, worked hard to keep discussions moving throughout the process.
Raye, who lives just down the road from one of the MOOMilk dairy farms, said, “I am delighted that long months of hard work, determination and attention to detail by MOOMilk and its supporters have been rewarded. All involved are to be congratulated for recognizing MOOMilk’s potential and stepping up to the plate in a significant way to help strengthen the venture and, in doing so, help preserve these dairy farms and a way of life.”