Scaling Up Organics
Last December, Organic Valley Family of Farms became the world’s first billion-dollar organic food company.
A member of Green America’s Green Business Network (GBN) since 1994, Organic Valley was founded in 1988 by seven family farmers who were struggling within a changing food industry. Banding together as a farming cooperative to form Organic Valley, the group decided to focus their new business on principles that were being eschewed throughout the industry. By paying farmers fairly; rejuvenating the soil; and staying away from antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, artificial hormones, and genetically modified organisms, the company would provide high-quality organic daily products, eggs, and product to consumers.
Today, Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic famers, representing approximately 1,800 farmers in 36 states. Its regionally based model means that products like milk are produced, bottled, and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support local economies.
“More than ever, people want to buy brands that are about more than just profit, but also about people and the planet,” says Anne O’Connor, Organic Valley’s director of public affairs. “In our growth and the growth of our industry, we remain committed to our core values of social responsibility, honesty, and caring for our communities. It’s the best way to provide the best organic food.”
Also in December, Outside magazine named Organic Valley #38 on its 2015 list of the 100 best places to work in the US. The companies that made the list encourage employees to lead an active lifestyle, are eco-conscious, and prioritize giving back to the community.
“It’s great to see a green, cooperative company achieve such success in the food industry by sticking to its core values,” says Denise Hamler, GBN director. “While being large inevitably brings challenges, it’s vital to bring organic food to scale to have a food system that is free from genetically modified organisms and synthetic chemicals that poison our air, water, and soil.”