More dairies may be going organic, but the demand for organic milk is close to exceeding the supply. Dean Foods, a Texas-based company that is the nation's largest producer of dairy and the owner of Horizon Organics, has even gone so far as to say that the sale of organic milk to stores could be rationed this winter. Part of the reason is that the production of organic dairy drops in winter, when cows in some parts of the country must be sheltered and protected from the cold.
One other problem facing the industry is an increased interest, from the customer,s into where the milk specifically comes from. Dean Foods has already dropped some of their larger suppliers and is focusing on mid-sized herds and smaller family farms. In fact, in trying to meet the current demand, Dean Foods is planning for the long term, hoping to avoid situations like this in the future, by spending $20 million in the next 5 years, helping small farmers transition to organic.
Doubtless, the transition will be easier for farmers to make when they are assured of a strong market for their product. For the rest of the year and until spring, however, consumers would be wise just to buy organic milk when it is available and not expect to see any price cuts or special deals on dairy.