Now this is what I’m talkin’ about – milking a nut
After nearly 100 years in business, a dairy company was forced to close its doors. But rather than throw in the towel, they decided to start making plant-based milks instead.
Starting over is never easy – especially if, for most of your life, you’ve been certain that the life path you’ve chosen is right for you. But after 92 years of business, starting over is exactly what the New York City-based company formerly known as Elmhurst Dairy did.
Their story is a realization of the American Dream — what began as a small family business in 1925 in Elmhurst, Queens that provided milk across Brooklyn and Queens, soon grew into one of the largest dairy companies on the East Coast. If you grew up in the New York Metropolitan area, the carton of milk that came with your school lunch was most likely from Elmhurst. But the way that people consume milk has changed.
Since the mid-1970s, milk consumption in the United States has been steadily declining by 25 percent per capita, according to data from the USDA. More people than ever are choosing to grab a glass of non-dairy milk such as soy, coconut, almond, and others over the traditional cow’s milk that the dairy industry has long campaigned for as the key to building strong, healthy bones.
The decline in dairy milk’s sales have had an undeniable effect on the dairy industry. In California, several farmers have given up on dairy in favor of planting almond groves. And this past August, Elmhurst Dairy, an East Coast dairy staple that survived the Great Depression to go on to provide dairy milk to over 8,300 stores and 1,400 public schools, announced that it would be closing its doors — but not for long. Henry Schwarz, son of the company’s co-founder lamented the company’s closing to The New York Times: “Pasteurized fluid milk has sort of gone out of style. There isn’t much room for our kind of a plant. I tried to keep this open because it was my father’s plant and he asked me to do so.”
Elmhurst was out of the dairy business — but they weren’t out of the game. At this year’s Natural Products Expo West, the largest natural products trade show, they emerged rebranded as just “Elmhurst” with four varieties of non-dairy milk on display — hazelnut, almond, walnut, and cashew…