Organic Valley is going direct-to-consumer in a new way through the launch of a branded merchandise store intended to support small family farms.
The Wisconsin-based farm cooperative is selling its own line of hats, shirts, totes, and more, with all contributions generated from the sustainable sourced merchandise going directly to farm members to help them preserve the future of small family farms.
The store and the company’s DTC approach reflect its long-standing commitment to sustainability by prioritizing U.S.-based companies with local manufacturing, as well as using 100% organic or recyclable materials, Jaclyn Cardin, chief business officer of Organic Valley, tells CGT, noting that some items are using scraps from the apparel industry.
“This is all about letting consumers literally wear their support for small family farms on their sleeves,” said Cardin. “I think a variety of people from all different ages, all different parts of the country are starting to really recognize that small family farms are vanishing at an alarming rate.”
Value for Retail Partners
While consumers are showing their support for small family farms through where they spend their money, Organic Valley’s retailers also value supporting local and U.S.-based companies, Cardin says. As part of this, they’ve partnered with retailers to bring more awareness to consumers supporting locally.
The partnership is expected by the company to raise awareness among consumers about where their food is coming from and the crucial role small family farms have in organic farming.
“We believe by partnering with the retailers and bringing more awareness to the consumer, we all win,” notes Cardin.
Benefits for Farmers
In addition to purchasing merchandise, consumers can access a “farmer finder” on the Organic Valley website to locate local Organic Valley farmers in their region across 35 states. Organic Valley has also launched a crop carbon setting program (CCIP), which farmers can opt into and take part in a variety of different sustainability initiatives, such as installing renewable energy or finding more ways to become energy efficient.
“We’ve been hearing from farmers that they’re just really excited about seeing not only themselves [in the store] in some cases, but seeing all the support from the community has been really rewarding for them to see people out there wearing these shirts,” said Cardin.
Organic Valley farmer members make up 57% of the 2.500 remaining small organic family farms in the country, according to the company. This initiative seeks to remind consumers what’s at stake with the decline of small family farms.
“We realize that at Organic Valley, we have 1,600 farmer members and the majority of the food that we produce is dairy,” said Cardin. “But this has got a larger movement-making message that we want people to just be aware of the small producers in this country and the small organic producers in this country to ensure that everyone is out there doing what they can to continue to keep them viable.”
The collection, which can be found at OrganicValley.com, is set to have another launch in September.