Dairy co-op loses Kraft contract: Where will the milk go?

Updated: Dec. 30, 2019 at 4:35 PM EST
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COPENHAGEN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Kraft Heinz plant in Lowville will no longer purchase milk from a group of north country dairy farmers. Now, those farmers say they are scrambling to find a new place to sell their milk to.

“Well sure, we are definitely disappointed. We thought we had a pretty stable market with Kraft," said Lynn Murray.

Murray co-owns Murcrest Farms in Copenhagen and is with the Jefferson County Bulk Milk Cooperative.

Murray says for a year the co-op has been contracted to supply millions of gallons of milk to the Kraft Heinz plant in Lowville. Earlier this month, the manufacturer decided it would not renew that deal for 2020.

“Verbally the message was that we were not selected as a supplier and they had decided to work with larger suppliers that also supply them with other products, and that they were probably going to contract less milk for the year," said Murray.

That decision has left the farmers scrambling to find another buyer when most buyers have already arranged their supply for next year.

“Individually, we would all be in trouble, so we need to stick together and see if we can find a place to go,” said Murray.

And though the cows and other farms across Jefferson County are busy producing milk, that product might not have a home for the new year.

“We’ve spent 20 something days looking for another market and as of yet been unsuccessful,” said Murray.

The co-op has hired a broker to help secure a deal, and has established a small contract with Upstate Niagara Cooperative out in Buffalo, but Murray says it’s only a fraction of the business they need to survive.

“I mean, it’s beyond the 11th hour. Now we are working close to midnight, so you know we are really frustrated and really nervous, but I just hope we can find a home cause the last thing anybody wants to do is dump it,” said Murray.

Now who will supply the milk to Kraft Heinz? We have received word it could be Cayuga Marketing and Dairy Farmers of America, one of the largest milk marketing cooperatives in the U.S.

Kraft did not respond to our request for comment.

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