After selling our milking equipment line in the fall of 2003 we continued to produce for the new owners into the early part of 2004. As operations started to wind down, at the suggestion of a friend and former dealer, the decision was made to enter the market for small scale dairy processing equipment. After many years of decline most equipment firms had withdrawn from this market. The small scale equipment market was beginning to grow again, primarily due to the goat people. The larger firms had never taken the goat people seriously so at first we had very little competition. Our product line soon grew to include butter churns, cheese vats, pasteurizers, and supporting equipment which positioned us well as new firms entered the market. As existing processing firms became better established interest increased in packaging. We added a cup filler for the butter people and a shrink wrap machine for the cheese people. As the artisanal cheese market became a little crowded in some areas new entrants increasingly turned to yogurt.
This year it will become important that we bring to market a low cost yogurt cup filler and capper in addition to the form fill and seal machine which is for drinkable products such as drinkable yogurt, ayran and lassi needed in certain ethnic markets. The big unknown now is what are the cow people going to do? The problem for many is, unlike the previous categories of small processors, you can tell their heart isn’t in it.
They are struggling to survive and are looking for a way to improve their financial outlook. Many are looking at processing as something they have to do rather than something they want to do if they are to stay in dairying. The ones with no concept of costs or marketing are sure to fail so we try to discourage them. Others have done their homework. They have identified niche products and have developed a marketing plan. Most will be coming to market with high solids milk from pastured cows. Drinkable yogurt, Greek yogurt, kefir, cream line milk, nutraceuticals, spotlighting the breed of cow the milk comes from such as Jersey or Brown Swiss, butter, spreadable cheeses such as cream or quark, home delivery - the list goes on and on. Many of these people will do well and we expect to develop specialty equipment to serve them.
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