Cabot clothbound cheddar wheels and wedges

Announcing the 2023 Processing Innovation Research & Development Grantees 

By Katie Spring, Outreach & Content Specialist 

Investing in dairy processing is a critical aspect of building a more resilient and sustainable regional dairy system, and yet the cost of implementing research and development that may lead to improved processing is often prohibitive for individual businesses.   

The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation’s Dairy Processor Research & Development Innovation Grant provides funding to research alternatives to current industry standards through projects that support dairy processors in gaining knowledge that will allow them to make informed, long-term business investments with positive environmental and/or economic impacts. 

This year, seven businesses across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont were granted between $79,000 and $250,000, with total overall funding of $1,063,890 for research and development innovation.  Their projects range in scope from developing and enhancing novel products, to market and distribution enhancement, wastewater reclamation, bilingual education for ice cream makers, and strategic marketing.   

The Grantees and their projects are: 

Byrne Dewitt of New York will reformulate aseptic flavored milk to contain less added sugar, without compromising on consumer acceptability, to ensure that flavored milk remains an approved beverage for the National School Lunch Program.  Through reformulating aseptic milk, environmental and economic gains can be achieved through shelf stable products and reduced energy usage. 

Cellars at Jasper Hill will act as a fiscal agent for contractor, Masterful Storytelling, Inc. This project,, in partnership with Plymouth Cheese, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co., Cabot, and Grafton Village, will research best practices in order to create a pilot program of tourism for elite cheesemongers, chefs, and food critics to learn more about Vermont cheese and demonstrate the draw.  Focusing on cheddar, they will introduce 3 different events to test the market for cheese tourism. 

Food Connects of Vermont, a non-profit food hub, will bring more dairy producers onto the Food Connects wholesale distribution platform, increase capacity to promote and sell more dairy products, and forge new and innovative supply chains within and beyond the Northeast, with an aim to continue expanding new markets for Northeast dairy producers. 

Hawthorne Valley Farm of New York will work with a contractor and State of New York to develop innovative solutions for water reclamation system as a part of their processing facility, advancing their mission to minimize waste and achieve a ‘zero-waste’ campus.

Sidehill Farm of Massachusetts will pilot a comprehensive return/reuse system for 32 oz. stainless steel yogurt containers. This includes sourcing, customization, sealing, labeling, mechanical and process engineering, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, customer uptake analysis, cost analysis, and lifecycle analysis. The project aims to determine the practicality of reusable stainless containers as an alternative to single-use plastic.  

Miller Farm of Vermont in partnership with Windham Northeast Supervisory Union (WNESU), will transition, a minimum of three elementary schools and one high school from serving milk in cartons to local organic milk in bulk dispensers and establish a new scalable market model that will increase institutional demand for regional dairy products while simultaneously improving nutrition, food safety, and reducing waste in public schools. 

Mountain Dairy of Connecticut will develop an ice cream production training curriculum, including an online certificate that incorporates expertise from two Extension programs. It will be available in Spanish and English and help dairy producers/processors expand their business while filling a resource gap in the industry. 

Photo credit: Jasper Hill Farm | Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

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