BOISE — An Idaho Falls dairy’s venture 286 miles away into the Boise area has allowed it to stay in the milk bottling business.
It is also helping other farmers sell their products directly to homes in Idaho’s largest urban center via the dairy’s home-delivery service.
Reed’s Dairy produces cheese and ice cream and for years has sold milk directly to homes, as well as to a processor, in Eastern Idaho.
But low milk prices had owner Alan Reed thinking a few years ago about stepping out of the milk bottling business and just sticking with making cheese and ice cream, which it also sells at its two retail stores in the Idaho Falls area.
At a time when Reed’s was close to making a decision on whether to stop bottling its own milk, a home-delivery service in southwestern Idaho called Boise Milk went up for sale.
Reed’s purchased the delivery service and now sells milk directly to homes in the Treasure Valley area in southwestern Idaho.
The Idaho Falls population is about 55,000, while about 650,000 people live in the Treasure Valley.
The milk is bottled at Reed’s Idaho Falls dairy and shipped by truck to the Boise area, where it’s delivered to homes.
“Coming over here and having another (outlet) for our milk is how we stayed in the milk business,” Reed said. “We’ve seen a really good increase in our customer base. The population here is huge compared to what we’re used to over in Idaho Falls.”
The much larger customer base in the Boise area has also allowed the business to expand the food items it delivers directly to customers. Reed’s now delivers meats, produce, honey, salsa, eggs and other foods in addition to its milk and dairy products.
“Our customers keep giving us this list of things they want, so we’re happy to bring it for them,” Reed said. “It’s kind of something that just happened.”
Because Reed’s prefers to source locally, that development has benefited other producers like Ballard Family Dairy in Gooding, which makes specialty cheeses that Reed’s delivers.
“It’s been a good deal for us,” said Ballard Dairy owner Steve Ballard. “It gives us one more retail outlet to sell to.”
Reed’s opened its first retail store in the Treasure Valley six weeks ago in Meridian, where it sells its cheeses, ice cream, milk and other dairy products. It’s the first of three to four retail stores the dairy plans to open in the region.
“As soon as we unlocked the door, we had lines out the door,” Reed said. “It’s been doing really well.”