Over the past six months, Darigold reported, consumer demand for Fit, which was launched in the Pacific Northwest market last year, has doubled in sales and distribution.
Headquartered in Seattle, Darigold is the marketing and processing subsidiary of Northwest Dairy Association (NDA), which is owned by about 430 dairy farm families in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
In a press release, the organization said Fit has 75 percent more protein and 40 percent less sugar compared to traditional milk. Using ultrafiltration, Fit is designed to give consumers the taste they want while being lactose-free and high in protein without introducing anything artificial.
Darigold recently broadened the Fit product line to include whole milk, as well as offering 2 percent white and 2 percent chocolate milk.
“Fit was inspired by our farmer owners’ desire to revitalize fluid milk,” Duane Naluai, Darigold’s SVP. “They, more than anyone, know Darigold must provide consumers with new and relevant types of milk that preserve the wholesome and nutritious foundation which makes milk great in the first place.”
The investment in Boise will not only expand Fit but will also serve as a platform for re-launching other classic Darigold beverages.
“We will deliver a better package for both our consumers and channel partners,” Naluai said.
The project includes a major capacity expansion, as well as modern aseptic packaging to produce Fit as a shelf-stable product that can be shipped and stored without refrigeration.
It will generate 15 new positions in Boise and also reduce the company’s environmental footprint as it relates to water use, plastic, corrugated material and overall energy use.
Many of the local farmers who supply the milk and sponsored the development of Fit are based in Washington state.
“This is yet another example of innovation coming from the entrepreneurial spirit of our farmers, building on a tradition of constantly striving to provide more nutritious products in more sustainable ways,” said Tony Veiga, chairman of the Dairy Farmers of Washington’s board of directors. “Darigold and the co-op’s farmers certainly do dairy in a responsible way.”
The first production run using the shelf-stable packaging is anticipated for fall 2020, marking the first of its kind in the Northwest.
“It’s an exciting time for dairy, as innovation is inspiring increased demand among consumers,” said Karianne Fallow, CEO of Dairy West, who represents and sponsors dairy across Idaho and Utah.
“Darigold Fit is a great example of the kind of new thinking that is revitalizing dairy and we’re proud of the investment Darigold has chosen to make.”
Fit milk was named Editor’s Choice No. 1 by Dairy Foods magazine in January, for its 2019 Top 10 Best New Dairy Products list. It also was named a finalist for best dairy drink in the 2019 World Dairy Innovation Awards.
Darigold handles about 10 billion pounds of milk annually. It produces a full line of dairy-based products for retail, foodservice, commodity and specialty markets. It operates 11 plants throughout the Northwest, processing high-quality milk produced by NDA farm families.