New Waterford dairy grows its business in order to be ...
By Burton Speakman
Baker’s Golden Dairy began bottling milk to expand the business to allow another family member to remain at home, but in a few months it has expanded to where customers can get the dairy’s products in seven stores and one restaurant.
There are still a large number of Baker’s customers who prefer to come pick up their half-gallons or quarts from the farm, said Kasey Baker, family member in charge of milk bottling and delivery.
The milk is a different product from much of what is sold at the grocery store. It is nonhomogenized and is slow-pasteurized, she said.
The cream still is in the milk, and it has to be shaken before drinking, Baker said.
“It has a different taste and smell than other milk,” she said. “A lot of older people like it because it’s what they remember milk tasting like 30 years ago.”
Several of the customers are people who have some lactose intolerance but can drink the nonhomogenized milk because it is easier on their stomach, she said.
The entire process of bottling the milk takes a little bit of time because of the 30- to 45-minute pasteurization process. It can go from the cow to the bottle in a few hours, she said.
Another way Baker’s has worked to differentiate itself is with flavored milks. They have offered flavors such as root beer, vanilla, cookies and cream, orange cream and several others, Baker said.
“When I was a kid, they used to have these ‘moo coolers’ at the fair, and my favorite flavor was orange cream. I wanted to do that here and found a company,” she said. “They had a bunch of other flavors, too — more than you could imagine.”
“This was my dad’s idea. He decided to do this when I told him I wanted to come home,” Baker said. “Milk bottling was a way to support me being here.”
After high school, Baker enrolled at Youngstown State University to major in nursing but decided after some time she wanted to go back and work on her parents’ farm, she said.
So Baker enrolled at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster and received her degree in dairy management and production.
The dairy-bottling facility started being built after Baker’s first year at OSU, she said.
“I missed the farm. This is what I grew up around,” she said.
Selling their milk produced on the farm is something that Kevin Baker, father of Kasey and the farm’s owner, said he had wanted to do for a long time.
“It took a while to put it together, but it’s doing quite well,” he said.
In addition to the dairy, the Baker family also sells beef, fresh eggs and is considering moving into other areas such as ice cream or cheese, said Deb Baker, Kasey’s mother.
It is important for farms to find ways to diversify products to overcome low costs in one area or another, she said.
Another goal is to start bringing people in for tours, said Kevin Baker. “People have no idea what goes into their milk,” he said.
There isn’t anyone in this area that offers a dairy-farm tour, Kevin Baker said. There are a lot of possibilities for the business to expand.
The dairy uses 10 percent or 11 percent of the milk produced by the family’s 90 dairy cows, with the rest being sold wholesale, said Deb Baker.
The cost for milk sold wholesale is by the hundred- weight, which equates to 11 gallons. Dairies do not make a whole lot of money on milk sold wholesale, Kasey Baker said. Baker’s Dairy sells half gallons of milk for $2 a half gallon or more.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists the March 2012 price for milk at $16.59 per hundredweight.
There have been people asking if Baker’s will offer delivery to homes. Modern life has made that impossible, said Deb Baker.
“Delivery was something we considered at first, but people aren’t home during the day anymore, or even at night — they’re out with activities,” she said.