Although Land O’Lakes, Inc. and The Hershey Company are two large, international businesses with more than 200 years of combined history, we haven’t forgotten where we started. Our commitment to the farm families has not faltered. That’s why we decided to host an on-farm luncheon to celebrate the central Pennsylvania farmers that provide the milk for iconic products, including Land O Lakes® Butter and Hershey’s® Milk Chocolate.
On June 27, The Hershey Company sponsored an on-farm event to celebrate the two companies’ partnership and, more importantly, thank the local dairy farmers. The luncheon was hosted by Land O’Lakes member-owner, S&A Kreider and Sons, who supplies milk to the West Hershey factory. S&A Kreider and Sons is a fourth-generation family farm, celebrating 100 years this year.
“Boots on the ground. When you bring the Hershey executive team to the farm, that message resonates and lets them see the passion our dairy producers have, first-hand. That sends a strong message,” says Jack Hoops, Director of Strategic Customers for Land O’Lakes.
Hershey is one of the last chocolate manufacturers that still uses fluid milk to produce their products. By partnering for this event, Hershey was able to connect with the Land O’Lakes member-owners who ship farm-fresh milk to the plant less than 100 miles away.
This is the third event we have hosted to connect Hershey, one of our largest customers for fluid milk as well as milk powder, with our producers. But this year’s event took on a twist. Considering the economic challenges facing dairy producers today, Hershey wanted to highlight up and coming innovation and ag tech to help the dairy producers be more competitive moving forward.
“Only two percent of the population is connected to agriculture. This event was a great opportunity to educate people on what type of technology is out there and what we are doing to be better stewards of our land and take better care of our cows,” says Ellis Kreider, Land O’Lakes member-owner.
After hearing from speakers from Land O’Lakes, The Hershey Company and the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, people could visit different stations that highlighted ag-tech on the Kreider’s farm, including a robotic calf barn. Another station, sponsored by WinField United, highlighted variable rate planting and fertilizer application, focusing on applying only what an acre needs to grow their crop, nothing more, nothing less.
This year’s luncheon also emphasized sustainability and environmental consciousness present at the dairy. People had the opportunity to engage and ask questions about the manure digester on the farm, which provides renewable energy for the Kreider’s, supplying heat for the dairy and bedding for the cows.
Through this luncheon, Hershey was able to engage with local producers, understand the opportunities and challenges on the farm, and build industry-wide support for their partners across the supply chain.
“It’s a great feedback loop for the producer to feel more engaged and connected to the business. It’s a chance for them to see full circle where their product is lining up and become aware of bigger trends in the marketplace,” said Jack.
As consumers continue to ask more questions about the dairy industry across all aspects of the supply chain, Hershey was able to convey Land O’Lakes member-owners’ mission and commitment to “utilizing more from less,” says Eric Boyle, Director of Dairy Procurement at The Hershey Company.
“We really have to be innovative and evolve with our customers as they change. We have iconic brands. However, the consumer wants innovative, new experiences. This event helped us convey the importance of that to continue engagement with our customers,” says Eric.
The Hershey on-farm luncheon helped connect the producer to the consumer through a variety of touchpoints, building industry-wide support for the business along the way.
“Through these events, Land O’Lakes is demonstrating the value of our complete supply chain to our customers,” says Jack. We like to take the full value of the supply chain right back to where it all starts, which is on the farm.
Land O’Lakes, Inc. Land O Lakes® is a trademark of Land O’Lakes Inc. Hershey’s® is a trademark of Hershey Chocolate & Confectionery Corporation