MONTPELIER, VT. – The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center announced five dairy processors are set to receive a total of $1.1 million in funding through the Dairy Product Packaging Innovation Grant.

The NE-DBIC established the funding program to support projects that will impact dairy product and supply chain packaging by reducing the use of virgin plastics.

The grant funds will go toward research, packaging development and analyzing consumer receptiveness. The research and findings will be shared amongst all of the grant recipients. The NE-DBIC shared that the idea behind the program is to make sustainable dairy packaging solutions more accessible, particularly for smaller and medium-sized processors.

The grant funds are going to five companies:

• Agri-Mark, Inc./Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Waitsfield, Vt.: $323,875. The cooperative is collaborating with a packaging manufacturer to produce a study on shelf-life/feasibility by comparing sustainable cheese packaging options.

• Stonyfield Farm, Inc. (Lactalis US Yogurt), Londonberry, NH: $300,000. The company’s plan involves transitioning from its YoBaby pouches to a mono-material film and lightweight pouch cap.

• Vermont Creamery, LLC (Land O’ Lakes), Websterville, Vt.: $200,000. The creamery is set to convert the primary retail packaging for its fresh goat cheese, making the packaging either recycle-ready or compostable.

• Big Picture Farm, Townsend, Vt.: $147,800. The goat dairy plans to transform the entire packaging line for its farmstead milk cheese and caramels, which will soon come in recyclable, compostable, FSC-certified and/or climate-forward packaging.

• Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro, Vt.: $127,442. The aged cheese maker will work with the University of Vermont to examine how sustainable packaging options affect the sensory qualities and shelf-life of its products. The project also involves working with a contractor to understand market research on consumer preferences surrounding sustainable packaging.

“These investments in dairy packaging look to the future,” said Anson Tebbetts, Vermont’s secretary of agriculture. “Farmers and those making dairy products are always thinking about what’s next.  These dollars will help the environment while making these businesses more affordable and sustainable. We look forward to seeing the new packaging come to life.”

The NE-DBIC supports dairy businesses in the Northeast, serving 11 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. It is funded through the USDA and hosted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.  

Through the years, the NE-DBIC has received $31.72 million from the USDA-AMS Dairy Business Innovation Initiative.