Hannaford 1st Major Supermarket to Join Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

Regional grocer campaign supports local dairy farms in New England and New York
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Butterworks Farm Reps
Hannaford's “Local Matters” campaign will highlight local organic dairy, like Butterworks Farm, and make it easier for customers to find organic dairy offerings in store.

Ahold Delhaize-owned Hannaford Supermarkets has become the first major supermarket chain to join an effort to support organic dairy farms facing challenges in New England and New York.

The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership came together in 2021 when cancellations of major supply contracts, impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, and other economic factors created unprecedented pressure on organic dairy farms across the region. Vermont saw 62 organic dairies close between January 2020 and August 2023, with similar impact across all New England and New York. The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a first-of-its-kind collaboration of farmers, processors, retailers, activists and government agencies, aims to increase demand for dairy produced in the region, creating market stability to help organic farms and build greater food system resilience for the future.  

Independent grocer Healthy Living Market and Café was one of the first retailers overall to sign on to the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership last year. The family-own grocer has three locations in the Northeast.

At Hannaford, the company is committing to promote four brands that are part of the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. The regional grocer's “Local Matters” campaign will highlight local organic dairy and make it easier for customers to find organic dairy offerings in store. The focus of the partnership is translating consumer support for local farms into more decisions to buy local organic products.

[Read more: "How Hannaford Is Enhancing Overall Shopping Experience"]

“We know our customers value the local family farms that make organic dairy possible,” said Sue Till, healthy living and sustainability marketing manager for Hannaford Supermarkets. “Our goal with this partnership is to emphasize the many benefits – preserving rural agriculture, availability of unique local products, and more – that local organic dairy farms make possible. We are pleased to join the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership in helping to create a strong foundation for organic dairy in our region.”

Customers will see four organic dairy partners highlighted at Hannaford: 

  • Organic Valley receives milk from more than 250 farms in New England and New York with an average herd size of 70 cows.
  • Stonyfield Organic receives all of its raw milk from farms in New England and the Northeast; 80% of its milk from Organic Valley and an additional 36 New England farms direct supply, totaling 16,000 acres of organically-managed farmland.
  • The Milkhouse supplies yogurt made with organic milk from its 380-acre farm in Monmouth, Maine.
  • Butterworks, the oldest certified organic dairy in Vermont, makes 100% grass-fed yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk with milk from its 400-acre farm in Westfield, Vt.

According to Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and “chief organic optimist” at Stonyfield Organic in Londonderry, N.H., retail partnerships like the one with Hannaford open the way for consumers to support local organic dairy through their decisions.

“Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York are blessed with an extraordinary group of committed, often multi-generational family farmers and processors who work tirelessly to provide organic dairy products,” said Hirshberg. “When consumers buy brands committed to sourcing organic milk from these farms, it sends a strong message that we value their role in our communities and we want them to stay in business.”

Travis Forgues, EVP of membership at Organic Valley, also cited how customer-facing partnerships such as this one support the long-term sustainability of small organic family farms in the Northeast.

“By choosing to shop at retail partners such as Hannaford and selecting brands such as Organic Valley, customers are not only bringing nourishing food to their family's table, but also helping to sustain the long-standing tradition of small organic family farms in the Northeast,” said Forgues.

The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership is active with other initiatives to support organic farmers. In addition to ongoing efforts to promote more than 30 brands with consumers, the partnership announced a project in August that will supply bulk organic milk from a local dairy to four Vermont public schools.

In other dairy news, Hannaford made headlines a few months back criticizing the Milk with Dignity campaigna movement of farmworkers and allies calling on dairy companies to ensure respect for human rights in their supply chains. Hannaford didn’t agree with Migrant Justice’s approach in securing the rights of dairy workers. 

The supermarket chain released a statement, which read in part, “The Milk with Dignity program is focused on a very small portion of the U.S. dairy supply chain, both in terms of its geographic footprint as well as the number of stakeholders involved. Because of the complexity and scope of the issues facing migrant farm workers, we do not feel this approach is scalable. Nor do we feel that these issues can be solved with a patchwork of loosely affiliated programs like Milk with Dignity working independently.”

Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford operates more than 180 stores in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and employs nearly 30,000 associates. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.  PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century and its 10 Most Sustainable Grocers.

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