By Katie Spring, Outreach & Content Specialist at NE-DBIC
The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), hosted at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, provides support to dairy businesses through projects that promote the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products.
Milk may not have changed much over the past 100 years, but the dairy business has.
Many dairy farms that once sold all their milk to wholesale buyers are pivoting to sell directly to customers and develop value-added dairy products. Henry Farms of Knox, based in Knox, Pennsylvania, is one of them. Owned by father and son, John and Andrew Henry, Henry Farms has been a family business since 1918.
For the first 100 years, the dairy didn’t need a marketing plan. That changed when they began bottling and selling milk under their own name. In 2021, Henry Farms received a Marketing and Branding Services Grant from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center to develop a marketing strategy for their 100-year-old dairy farm. With Andrew’s wife Jill guiding the process, the farm worked with marketing professionals to develop a consumer education and communication plan to share the benefits of their A2 Advantage milk products create a video to use on their website and social media channels, and to use this new marketing plan help launch three new flavors of milk and a cheese line.
The professionally made video now serves as a welcoming introduction to the farm on their website:
Along with digital marketing, the farm expanded their on-the-ground efforts through mailing post cards, distributing tri-fold brochures, visiting local businesses to develop new delivery routes, and hosting on-farm tours. All this effort led to a successful launch of new milk flavors, including caramel milk and white chocolate milk.
While factors like rising fuel costs created challenges for adding new delivery routes, and bad weather impacted on-farm tours, the team at Henry Farms found ways to move forward and grow relationships with customers. From the folks who buy milk directly at the farm to those who purchase it at grocery stores or access it through a food bank, school group, or other local organization, Henry Farms is seeing the results of their investment in marketing and relationship building.
“When we applied for the grant, we had our products in 9 businesses in one county. We now have our products in 21 venues over 2 counties,” said Jill Henry.
The combination of marketing, educational outreach, and new venues have led to an increase in revenue, plus a growing number of happy customers.
“One mother quoted her son saying, ‘Mom please only buy the good stuff when it comes to milk and cheese. Buy Henry's, not this other stuff,” said Jill. “It's a good day as business owner when your products become known as the ‘good stuff’ in local households.”
As they move forward into 2023, Henry Farms of Knox is continuing to update their website with new products and are looking into creating charcuterie baskets for their cheeses. And just as they have been for the past 100 years, they’ll continue tending to and milking cows.
Photo and video courtesy of Henry Farms of Knox
The Dairy Marketing and Branding Services grant will re-open in April 2023. Learn more about this funding opportunity here.