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Upstate Niagara Cooperative affected by nationwide milk carton supply challenges


Thu, Nov 2nd 2023 07:10 pm

Local dairy cooperative is seeking solutions to unexpected school milk packaging shortage

Submitted by Upstate Niagara Cooperative

Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. is one of many milk processors throughout the nation that has been affected by an unexpected school milk packaging supply disruption. Unfortunately, a significant industry supplier of half-pint milk carton packaging is experiencing operational challenges. This is negatively impacting their ability to fully supply school milk packaging orders. 

The company, which packages milk under its Upstate Farms label, continues to seek alternative solutions for its customers and is in frequent contact with all potential vendors to try to solve this issue swiftly.

To date, Upstate Niagara Cooperative has been able to service all its school customers, with very limited impact, having proactively converted other institutions like hospitals and nursing homes from half pints to larger sizes of milk containers to be able to allocate most of its supply of half pint packaging to schools. The company also notified its school customers about this issue and the fact that it may need to take similar measures, though its team continues to work hard to ensure continuity of supply. As an interim solution, the cooperative is offering its customers half gallons of low-fat and fat-free white milks, and low-fat chocolate milk to be poured into cups at the schools.

Through a recent memorandum sent to state agencies, USDA confirmed that schools in multiple states are experiencing such milk supply chain challenges related to packaging issues. The memo also provides information about existing authority state agencies, school food authorities or other child nutrition operators may use in such situations. Ultimately, these flexibilities allow the school districts to choose how they respond to shortages.

Milk is an integral part of school meals due to its unique nutritional package. One glass of milk delivers 13 essential nutrients that fuel children’s growth, development and learning. The team at Upstate Niagara is doing everything it can to ensure milk remains available to schools.

“Our 260 dairy farm family owners operate with the purpose to ‘Nourish Life.’ We intend to deliver on that purpose despite the packaging challenges that we are facing,” assured John T. Gould, president and chairman of the board.

More About Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc.

A cooperative of 260 family-owned farms, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. is a food and beverage company that has been offering innovative, award-winning, high-quality dairy products since 1965. These product offerings include milk, flavored milk, shelf stable ready-to-drink beverages, yogurt, dip, sour cream, cheese, canned evaporated milk and ice cream mix products marketed under the Upstate Farms, Bison, Intense Milk, Milk for Life, O-AT-KA, Gold Cow and Valley Farms brands, in addition to numerous contract and retail customer brands. The cooperative has over 1,700 employees, with eight dairy manufacturing plants located in New York state and Pennsylvania. www.upstateniagara.com.

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