The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), hosted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets announces five recipients of the Dairy Product Packaging Innovation Grant. As consumer demand grows for sustainable packaging solutions, the NE-DBIC has prioritized investments in projects that will reduce the use of virgin plastics and the environmental impacts of dairy product and supply chain packaging.
Grants have been awarded to:
- Agri-Mark, Inc./Cabot Creamery Cooperative of Waitsfield, VT will receive $323,875 to collaborate with a packaging manufacturer to produce a study on a shelf-life and feasibility that compares sustainable cheese packaging options.
- Big Picture Farm of Townsend, VT will receive $147,800 to transform their entire line of packaging for their farmstead milk cheese and caramels to environmentally friendly formats that are recyclable, compostable, FSC-certified, and/or climate-forward.
- Cellars at Jasper Hill of Greensboro, VT will receive $127,442 to work with the University of Vermont to assess sustainable packaging options and their effects on sensory qualities and shelf-life. They will also work with a contractor to conduct market research to understand consumer preferences for branding sustainable packaging.
- Stonyfield Farm, Inc. (Lactalis US Yogurt) of Londonberry, NH will receive $300,000 to transition their YoBaby pouches into mono-material film and lightweight the pouch cap.
- Vermont Creamery, LLC (Land O’ Lakes) of Websterville, VT will receive $200,000 to convert its current fresh goat cheese primary retail packaging into a recycle-ready or compostable structure.
This $1.1 million in funds will support dairy processors at a variety of scales and product types to conduct research, packaging development, and to analyze consumer receptiveness. The research and findings of these grants will be shared by all recipients to bolster the knowledge and accessibility of new sustainable packaging solutions for the dairy industry, especially for small and medium sized processors.
“I am so proud of the incredible work done by the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, which has supported dairy resilience and modernization since I worked to establish regional centers across the country in the 2018 Farm Bill. Project awardees like these underscore that the future of dairy is right here in Vermont and this region,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts commented; “These investments in dairy packaging look to the future. Farmers and those making dairy products are always thinking about what’s next. These dollars will help the environment while making these businesses more affordable and sustainable. We look forward to seeing the new packaging come to life.”
The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center provides support to dairy businesses in the Northeast region, serving eleven states from Maryland to Maine. The NE-DBIC promotes the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products through market research, technical assistance, and competitive grant rounds for dairy farmers and processors.
“This award will greatly accelerate our exploration of greener packaging options,” noted Bill Beaton, CEO of Agri-Mark/Cabot. “The findings will benefit our own farmers’ brands as well as the broader dairy industry in our collective sustainable packaging journeys.”
“The entire Vermont Creamery team is so honored to receive this grant, which will allow us to pursue our goal of more sustainable packaging for our goat cheese more quickly and expansively than we would have been able to otherwise,” said Eliza Leeper, Mission and Customer Manager for Vermont Creamery. “We look forward to sharing our learnings with our peers in the industry so we can broaden the positive impact of this investment.”
To date, the NE-DBIC has received $31.72 million from the USDA-AMS Dairy Business Innovation Initiative.