The Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (Omsco) and its US partner Organic Valley/Cropp have strengthened their ties to help develop markets for organic milk and dairy products.
Each will become a member in the other’s organisation, while retaining independence.
The two already have a close working relationship, with Cropp marketing and distributing Omsco’s Kingdom Cheddar, the only European organic cheese available on the US market.
“Omsco and Cropp are the two largest dedicated organic dairy pools in the world, with a combined organic milk supply of almost 1 billion litres,” said Richard Hampton, managing director of Omsco.
“Our relationship has naturally evolved, and this alliance is the next step. This agreement will allow both co-operatives to market each other’s bulk and branded products and, by working together, Omsco will be better prepared to satisfy the growing global appetite for organic dairy products.”
New product and technical expertise, alongside sharing of best practices in organic dairy farming would be further benefits, said the co-ops.
The move was an important development for co-operation in organic agriculture on a global scale, said Eric Newman, Organic Valley’s vice-president.
“In meeting the ever-increasing consumer demand for organic dairy products all over the world, our two co-operatives are doing what we know best: we’re co-operating.”
Organic certification body Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G) has welcomed the move.
“The partnership goes to show that by working together, farmers are able develop their industry, find ways to supply markets and satisfy the demands of consumers globally,” said chief executive Roger Kerr.
Cropp had sales of US$972m (£648m) in 2014. It is based in Wisconsin, with 1,800 farmer-owners in 32 states producing organic milk and dairy, meat, eggs and produce. Its dairy members have an average herd size of 77 cows.
Omsco, based in Somerset, is the largest exclusively organic dairy co-op in Europe, with a turnover of £100m. It manages 65% of the UK’s organic milk supply and about 20% of its sales are as exports. It has 250 farmer members.