Yogurt maker Chobani LLC has announced a new program to further its commitment to dairy.
The company said its aim is to effect positive transformation toward supporting the economic, environmental and social impacts of dairy. The program, called Milk Matters, also is designed to support greater transparency across dairy farms and the industry.
"Proud to share our vision for the future of dairy—from cows to people to planet. It's a small step with a big message: The future of dairy farmers matters to all of us," said Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani.
"Dairy farms are the backbone of the communities we call home, but the current model is broken and it's leaving consumers questioning everything, including the treatment of animals, farm workers and the land itself," Ulukaya continued. "Our solution is simple but powerful. We all have a responsibility to support the farmers who make our business and our vision possible."
Milk Matters also enlists Fair Trade USA, the World Wildlife Fund, National Milk Producers Federation and Cornell University, as well as co-op partners and dairy farmers themselves.
Specifically, Chobani wants to transform dairy by outlining "six critical pillars" to be adopted by their partners and hopefully the entire dairy industry. These include environmental stewardship, better animal care, increased local sourcing, increased attention to work conditions and worker well-being, investment in dairy communities and bolstering freedoms for smaller dairy farms in the competitive market landscape.
"This is a big move for one of the (most) important sectors of agriculture in the U.S.—creating shared trust, partnership and value between consumers, farms and brands with a Fair Trade USA standard for dairy," said Paul Rice, CEO of Fair Trade USA. "By funding the exploration and development of a standard that will be available to the entire dairy industry, Chobani is taking a real leadership position. We're thrilled to support an initiative that will drive continued progress, value and transparency across the dairy industry."
To develop the Milk Matters program, Chobani spent the past several years in a dialogue with farmers and farm workers, elected officials in dairy communities and experts across the industry.
In recent years, changes in grocery and consumer tastes have added pressure onto the dairy sector. While some companies look to adapt and contend with a growing demand for nondairy alternatives to milk, other companies such as Organic Valley have experienced success with organic and natural dairy products.
The company says it is proud to take a leadership position in the category at a time when dairy in the U.S. is at a moment of evolution.