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Straus Family Creamery Weathers Impacts of COVID-19 to Dairy Farmers

by Shawna Rodgers |
photo courtesy of Dawn Heumann for Straus Family Creamery

Photo courtesy of Dawn Heumann for Straus Family Creamery @dawnheumann

When asked about how California dairy provider Straus Family Creamery continues to keep their organic producers protected during unprecedented market volatility and consumer purchasing patterns, President Bob McGee responded by saying, “My boss is an organic dairy farmer.” Lucky for their loyal network of consumers, the first-hand perspective of Straus founder and CEO, Albert Straus, influences everything they do as a company. While dairy producers across the country are dumping milk due to hotel and restaurant closures, prepared food sections in retail locations are shutting down, and with a global pandemic leading to a market trend in favor of plant-based milk, Straus Family Creamery holds strong and weathers the storm true to form: by sticking to its mission-driven model that its consumer base understands and admires. 

Aside from running a zero waste facility, using renewable energy at its Marshall creamery in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, and providing its consumers with a consistent, valuable product, Straus Family Creamery attributes its steady nature in the marketplace to a consistent connection to the organic family farmers who provide certified organic milk to the creamery. 

Their people come first, following in the vein of other industry leaders like Patagonia that continually do what’s best for the collective, which in turn secures their consumer base of mission-driven individuals who want to support organic, local, and sustainable economies. While Straus and McGee have echoed the sentiments of other business leaders during this time, highlighting the challenge of needing to “build the plane while it’s flying,” they’ve also commented on how rewarding it has been to see how their team comes together to support one another throughout the crisis. 

To add to the calamity, Straus Family Creamery is in the process of building a new production plant, and as a result of the pandemic, there was six weeks of lost time on their new plant in Rohnert Park. However, thanks to their local supply chains, Straus Family Creamery is doing well compared to larger companies with international supply chains. Their producers who also sell at farmers’ markets have more than doubled their sales in direct-to-consumer platforms and direct deliveries. They’ve seen increased collaboration between farmers and producers, and are finding that their community of buyers recognizes the true cost of food. 

Throughout nearly five very difficult years for the organic dairy industry, Straus has been a valued supporter partner of the CCOF Foundation by supporting its mission to provide grants to students, teachers, and new and transitioning organic farmers across the country. And, as more and more organic businesses pop up across the country, McGee mentioned to CCOF in a recent call the importance of connecting those living in cities with rural communities and the farmers and ranchers who are growing and producing our food. As a self-proclaimed “city kid,” McGee wants to keep himself and his fellow city-raised friends working in organic educated and engaged in what rural farming communities experience every day. The more we can learn and understand the essential nature of rural communities and their connection to the health of our country’s citizens, the better we can serve their organic producers. 

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See what other businesses are supporting the CCOF Foundation’s 501c(3) nonprofit granting programs and donate today to invest in the future of our organic food system.