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Raise a glass of milk and celebrate Earth Day 2019

Editor’s Note: The following sponsored content is provided by Ingles Markets.

Earth Day is among the most well-known celebration days, with events held in more than 192 countries aimed at increasing awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment.

In recognition of Earth Day 2019, today we’re toasting—with a glass of milk—a company in the Upstate’s backyard that is gaining national attention for its environmentally-friendly focus.

It all started in 1982 when Ingles Markets purchased a milk processing and packaging plant from Sealtest. Since that time, Milkco has grown from production of five million gallons of milk each year to more than 60 million gallons annually.

With most of its raw milk supply coming from within a 150-mile radius of Milkco’s processing facility near Asheville, NC, this wholly-owned subsidiary of Ingles Markets provides most of the fluid milk needs for Ingles stores. Matter of fact, Milkco is recognized by industry peers as having more local farm milk than any dairy in the Southeast. To further ensure quality, Milkco does not buy milk from farming operations with cows treated with artificial hormones.

In addition to serving Ingles stores, Milkco also provides dairy, citrus, tea, ice cream mix and bottled water to food service distributors, grocery warehouses and independent specialty retailers across 10 states.

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Environmentally-friendly focus

Milkco is one of the few dairy operations in the country that packages 100 percent of its products in recyclable corrugated boxes, with the boxes themselves made up of 25 percent recycled material. These corrugated shippers provide additional temperature protection and keep milk containers much cleaner during distribution than do conventional plastic cases.

The company’s environmentally-friendly focus also is reflected in its energy and water efficiency. A successful pilot project to reduce milk residue in waste water from equipment cleaning is receiving national attention from other processors. Milkco’s pace-setting process control systems not only help production efficiency but also provide additional safeguards for product quality.

A toast to dairy farmers

So, this Earth Day, let’s raise a glass of milk to U.S. dairy farmers who have reduced the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk by 63 percent since 1944, according to the American Dairy Association. Through improved water and energy use, better understanding of a cow’s nutritional needs, the ability of methane digesters to produce electricity from cow manure and going green along the supply chain from the farm to the grocery store, dairy farmers and processors are committed to sustainability.

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