Our first stop on the Southwest Tour was Duchess Dairy in Rural Retreat, VA. It was my first time seeing milk bottling, and it was so exciting! When we arrived, they were bottling chocolate milk, and it was so fascinating watching their team and equipment in the process from filling, sealing, labeling, and packing the product.
The company history is an excellent example of vertical integration. Two families, both multi-generational dairy farmers, began a joint venture to capture the upstream market and start a milk bottling business. It makes sense to capture that upstream market since they had the Jersey cows and were already milking. In December 2009, they bought an existing dairy processing plant which they named Duchess Dairy.
Some interesting things I found out–
-Chocolate milk is good for you after a workout. Duchess Dairy supplies school athletic programs with their milk.
-“Bottle today and on the shelf tomorrow” gives them an extra week of shelf life because they are closer to the end market.
-Every day of being stored above 40 degrees, the milk loses a day of shelf life.
-Jersey milk has 17% higher calcium and is higher in protein.
I was impressed by the variety of milk products they offer! Products include whole milk, reduced-fat (2%), chocolate, drinkable yogurt, cream, strawberry milk, orange cream, and Eggnog. I was also impressed with the number of grocery stores and convenience stores that carry their product in the area. I tried the orange cream, and it was delicious!!
To find a location carrying their milk near you: http://jerseysites.usjersey.com/duchessdairy/distributors.html