Tillamook County Creamery Association Annual Meeting – Staying True to What Makes Tillamook Special

By Kelly Benson & Laura Swanson

Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) has a vision – to be the most famous food brand in five years, was just one of the messages at the co-op’s annual meeting Saturday March 18th.  To do that, the company plans to stay true to what makes Tillamook special by telling the story first hand about the life of a farmer, and providing real food with authentic value.  A focus on family meals in the company’s branding, that feature products that make meal times easier and affordable.  As Tillamook’s production capabilities have grown larger scale that has allowed the company to be competitive while still supplying high quality for an affordable price.  TCCA remains rooted in Tillamook’s nostalgia and history.

Market share is an indication of how the company is doing, and in the last two years Tillamook has doubled market share in ice cream and yogurt.  Natural cheese share has held steady over the last four years, even though Tillamook changed to a premium brand rather than discounted or commodity cheese, which has also translated into financial success.  “We have invested in the organization which has increase efficiency,” said TCCA CEO Patrick Criteser. “We’ve invested in this community with volunteers as well as millions of dollars,” he continued.

Branded foods, overall nationally, are not growing, yet Tillamook is, by featuring high quality real food.  The organization as a co-op could be perceived as a disadvantage with larger companies, but actually for TCCA it has been an asset.  The co-op’s stringent standards have maintained Tillamook’s high quality and the multi-generational input has helped to bring the right products into the market.

TCCA boasts a stable workforce, of the 820 employees 50% have been with TCCA over 5 years. There are employees with 46 plus years, bringing history and knowledge, combined with new talent, which provides a diversity of experience.

“Consumers want real food by mission-driven producers,” said Criteser. “Long term business that serves consumers, farmers and environment.  We will focus on what got us here – clean ingredients, great taste and farmer-owned.  Continue to focus on what we already are. It’s about uncovering what’s already here.”

According to “Tillamook Dairy Farmer” Derrick Josi, “We had our TCCA(Tillamook cheese) annual meeting last night. What a fun night with a great panel on food trends in the world,” he continued.

“Was a bit embarrassing when they talked about social media and our CEO said we need less Kardashians and more Derrick Josi’s. Some jokesters even started a hashtag #lesskardashiansmoreDerricks.” 

Derrick Josi (at right) with Jack Mulder of TCCA

Josi’s “Tillamook Dairy Farmer” Facebook page has over 5,000 likes and helps to uncover the real life of a Tillamook County dairy farmer.  He is one of the real farmers featured in TCCA’s new advertising campaign, which has been reported to feature “fake” farmers.  Josi is the real deal, the fourth generation in his family, and the farm is milking 400 plus Jerseys.  In his spare time, he’s been reaching out to the general public to provide sensible information to help combat all the mis-information about dairy farms, milk and dairy in general.  In particular, a recent blog/opinion/editorial was posted about one person’s opinion about Tillamook Cheese, which has caused quite a stir.  Josi provides thoughtful answers to the questions this blog has raised.

This quote from Josi below, sums it up:

I’m going to speak some truth that some people won’t like.

Small farms do not equal good

Conventional farms do not equal bad

Organic farms do not equal good

Good is good

Bad is bad

I’ve seen good organic and bad

I’ve seen good conventional and I’ve seen bad

I’ve seen good large farms and I’ve seen bad

I’ve seen good small farms and I’ve seen bad

I support all good agriculture regardless of size or type

I condemn bad agriculture regardless of size or type

If you can’t understand these simple truths then you have an agenda that I can’t support!

          Derrick Josi, Tillamook County Dairy Farmer

Everyone should know where their food comes from, but blogs/opinions on the Internet are not the best resource to make this kind of knee-jerk decision about which foods to eat or not eat based on one person’s opinion.  Do your own research.  First-hand.  Quite simply, don’t believe everything you read. ?

Except, of course, what you read on the Tillamook County Pioneer – the trusted community news source.