by Katie Spring, Outreach & Content Specialist at NE-DBIC
Across the Northeast, the name Cabot is synonymous with cheddar.
Established in Cabot, Vermont in 1919, Cabot Creamery operates throughout the Northeast and is owned by farm families in New England and New York. With a “commitment to caring for the environment and the communities where consumers, customers, and employees live,” Cabot became the first dairy cooperative to attain B Corp status in 2012. While Cabot offers a range of dairy products – including yogurt, sour cream, butter, and more – the company is best known for its award-winning cheese.
Now, Cabot is taking its environmental commitment to a new level with the support of an NE-DBIC Dairy Product Packaging Innovation Grant.
With a priority to reduce the use of virgin plastics across the dairy supply chain, Cabot is conducting trials of three types of sustainable packaging. The current plastic packaging, known as film, will be compared to post-consumer recycled content, recycle-ready, and fully compostable film.
The focus of the study centers on two of Cabot’s most popular cheeses: extra sharp cheddar, and pepper jack.
Through a shelf-life and feasibility study for each type of film, Cabot is partnering with TC Transcontinental, a leader in the manufacturing of flexible packaging, to carry out these trials at its processing plant. To date, Cabot has completed line trials of each film in their processing plant.
“Our entire Cabot team is excited to have the support of this grant to research, learn and educate about innovative packaging alternatives,” said Jessica Riley, a sourcing analyst for Cabot.
Alongside testing different films, Cabot is conducting consumer studies to gauge perspectives on alternative packaging, and a consumer sensory study to ensure consistent cheese quality, flavor, appearance, and nutrition value with the different films.
While the study is still ongoing, and shelf-life and sensory data will be critical in determining the long-term viability of each type of film, the information Cabot is gathering represents a significant step toward enhancing sustainability throughout the dairy sector. To that end, Cabot will develop educational materials based on their findings to encourage collaboration across the Northeast dairy processing industry.
Are you a dairy processor with an innovative idea?
The Dairy Product Packaging Innovation Grant is currently open for applications. Visit our grant page and apply by August 24.