Lo-res_143917825-SThe Organic Valley cooperative consists of nearly 2000 farmers who raise dairy, beef, and produce according to organic practices. Their output appears on grocery store shelves around the country, with organic seals and promises featured prominently. But consumers are often suspicious of such claims, leading Organic Valley to take matters into its own hands when it comes to providing information about what goes on in its supply chain.

To start, the mobile-friendly Organic Valley website features a function that enables consumers to find local stores carrying its products. Once they are in the stores, consumers also can visit the site to find out about exactly which farm is home to the cows that produced the milk they are about to buy. The descriptions include detailed and personal information about the farms, their practices, and the farmers themselves, giving consumers the sense that they can get to know these producers personally.

If the website isn’t enough, Organic Valley also organizes tours, open to the public, of selected farms in its cooperative each year. If a consumer wants to attend a “farm discovery tour,” she can head out to Petaluma, Calif., and check out the pastures, nursery, and milking parlors maintained by Jana McClelland and her family. In addition to accepting visitors who ask to come, Organic Valley issues invitations to influential lifestyle experts and bloggers, drawing Naomi Robinson from Bakers Royale and Eve Amurri Martino from Happily Eva After to Kutztown, Penn., for another round of farm tours.

The initiatives seek to build both demand for organic products and sales of organic products produced by Organic Valley farmers. Already, organic options account for about 5 percent of all food purchases in the United States, and trends suggest that that share will continue to grow. Modern consumers appreciate a sense of authenticity. For Organic Valley, there is nothing more organic than showing just where the dairy, meat, and vegetables were raised, whether the shopper checks it out on a mobile device or in person.

Discussion Question:

  1. How is Organic Valley ensuring that information about its supply chain flows through its supply chain?

Source: Jane L. Levere, “Organic Valley Traces Milk Back from Table to Farm,” The New York Times, July 17, 2016