Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reed's Dairy scores with non-homogenized milk

For decades, small family dairies have been disappearing from rural America, but Reed's Dairy of Idaho Falls has managed to buck the trend.

Owner Alan Reed has kept the business local and kept the middle man out of the equation. He's also been attentive to what customers want, such as non-homogenized milk, which the dairy began offering Feb. 1.

"We've got a group of people who really like it," he said. "Some are saying it's easier to digest or it helps with their allergies. Others just like it because it's the more natural kind of product."

With non-homogenized milk, the cream rises to the top. If you're a real stickler for the old-school presentation, you can get it in returnable 1/2-gallon glass bottles. "We've got some people who say it tastes colder and fresher in glass bottles," Reed said.

Reed said sales have leveled off after a month, but the product has a broad demographic, from people in their 20s to senior citizens.

Overall, it's a challenge staying in the business. The price of milk is dropping to where it was in 2008, and feed and hay prices are as high as he's seen them. Reed's had to raise their price $1 a gallon on Feb. 1, but so far there has been drop-off in sales. That's due to customer loyalty.

"Our customers are really understanding about the increase," he said. "We lose some and we pick up some. It's been steady over the past few years."

Reed is partners with his cousin Mike Reed. The dairy, at West Broadway and Bellin Road, was started by their grandfather, Charlie, and then operated for years by his sons, Roy, Larry and Dave.