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America's top dairy of the year is right here in Oregon

The Tillamook County Creamery Association won Dairy Foods Magazine's coveted "Processor of The Year" award.
Credit: KGW

TILLAMOOK COUNTY, Ore. — Tillamook Creamery is yet again making Oregon proud. The Tillamook County Creamery Association walked away with this year's coveted "Processor of the Year" award, courtesy of Dairy Foods Magazine.

Dairy Foods highlighted the creamery co-op's growth in sales, care for its stakeholders and environmental stewardship. The co-op has been around now for more than 100 years and is one of the oldest consumer food brands in the U.S.

In 1861, the town of Tillamook was founded by Thomas Stillwell. Residents quickly realized that a more perfect location for dairy production would be hard to find. Situated near the Oregon coast, the land is fertile and experiences heavy rainfall. Combine that with the relatively flat topography, and it is perfect for grazing cattle.

A coalition of local farmers founded the Tillamook County Creamery Association in 1909. They wanted better prices and fair rates on the transportation of their goods to market.

This isn't the first time in recent memory that the creamery has been awarded. Tillamook was named "Target Vendor of the Year" award for food and beverage.

The growth of Tillamook's business in big box stores alone has been prodigious. In 2016, the company did $8 million in business with Target. That number has grown rapidly to nearly $60 million in retail sales this year with Target alone.

Tillamook is different than many other dairies in the United States. Single source and lauded for its commitment to environmental responsibility, the co-op has been able to produce growth for itself and its shareholders while being sustainable.

A certified "B Corporation," the co-op take sits environmental stewardship very seriously. TCCA is on board with the Innovation for U.S. Dairy's Stewardship Commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It has set a goal of 30% reduction in absolute emissions by 2030.

Tillamook is also being credited as a rare success story in the dairy industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. As farmers across the nation dumped milk in the face of a logistical nightmare, Tillamook farmers had security in where they sent their haul. This is due to Tillamook's business model, which creates and packages the products at two manufacturing facilities in Oregon: one in Tillamook and the other in Boardman.

Unlike many companies in today's market, Tillamook also has a corporate culture with roots in the region. CEO Patrick Criteser's family can be traced back to Oregon's inception. His ancestors arrived in the state in the 1860s, just years after Oregon received statehood in 1859. With a lineage as old as the state in which it resides, Tillamook remains a truly Oregon institution.

If you are interested in seeing the creamery for yourself, they opened a reimagined visitor center in 2019, and the cheese making process has been on public display since the 1940s.

Tillamook will receive the "Processor of the Year" award at the upcoming International Dairy Show in Orlando, Florida.

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