There I was, sitting at my desk. It was third grade, the teacher was talking and drawing on the blackboard, I was losing interest and began looking out the window to start my first daydream of the day (there were always lots of daydreams). I wonder if the girl in row 3, seat 2 likes me? Was summer really over? Will I ever make it to the Big Leagues? Why aren’t we outside playing baseball right now? … and then I saw him. He was walking into the playground through the main gate dressed in a white uniform with a black belt. He was pushing a two-wheeled cart with some wire crates on it filled with milk. His truck was parked right outside the gate. The milkman was here! That meant it was getting close to lunch time and a quick glance at the clock confirmed it. The milkman was never late.

In those days at our school, as was the case in many schools at that time, we brought our lunches to school with us either in a brown bag or a lunch box. Some kids had a thermos with juice or milk or some other beverage in it. But if anyone wanted fresh milk from the milkman we had to make sure that we had a nickel with us or that our parents had prepaid for our lunch milk.

Clover has always been a big part of school lunches in the Redwood Empire (North of San Francisco). We now have over 300 school accounts stretching from Sausalito to Fort Bragg and from Point Arena to Lower Lake. We are also serving some schools in the Bay Area including the Santa Clara Unified School District in the south bay as well as the Santa Cruz City School District.

Over the course of the 2010-11 school year we sold over 8.43 million half pints of milk to our local schools. The breakdown of chocolate to white milk was 3.845 million chocolate half pints to 4.585 million white half pints. This equates to a total of over 526,000 gallons of milk.

The fact that our kids are being offered milk at lunch should be a comfort to us all. Milk supplies good calories in a healthy drink that delivers calcium for building strong bones and healthy teeth, and protein for developing strong muscles.

As important as it is for our children, the school milk business is also very important to Clover Stornetta. Important not only for the volume of milk that it pushes through our plant, but also for the exposure of the Clover Stornetta brand to our young students on a daily basis. If they have good memories and good experiences with our products now, it is much more likely that they will stay with us as adults and avoid reaching for brand X.

Recently in the school lunch program there has been much scrutiny given nationwide to the fat and calories of the higher fat milks as well as the added sugars in the chocolate milk. Most of the attention is being driven by the new Federal nutritional requirements that school lunches must meet in 2012. Even though Clover Stornetta was already offering 1% low fat milk to our schools and we had previously reduced the amount of added sugar and calories in our chocolate milk, in anticipation of the new Federal ruling we are developing a new fat free chocolate for the schools. When asked about the new product Marcia McGlochlin, Clover’s Director of Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs, said, “We carefully evaluated different flavor profiles and chose a formula that would be nutritionally sound and still be pleasing to the students.” New cartons are being made and the new product should be ready to launch before the end of the year.

As with any new product launch, we will be checking sales figures. But what’s even more important, with this product launch we will be watching and listening carefully to comments and reactions from the students. After all, we want our kids to still look forward to seeing the milkman make his deliveries. In that respect we hope nothing changes.

-Herm

(Herm Benedetti is the VP of Research and Development for Clover)

Hear From Clo
      Twelve months ago, we embarked on a journey to strengthen the Clover brand. We started with our two well-known local names, Clover Stornetta Farms and Clover Organic Farms, and merged them into one, Clover Sonoma.
      In the process, we updated all of our packaging and made the decision to convert all of our conventional milk to meet Non-GMO Project Verified standards. None of these decisions were made lightly, but all of them were made to make Clover a better brand for you and a stronger brand for the future ...