Visitors watch milk being bottled, ice cream being made
By CECILIA PARSONS
For the Capital Press
HANFORD, Calif. -- Believing that fluid milk is the "face of the dairy industry," Rosa Brothers Milk Co. in Hanford made a move to bring that face and their name directly to the consumer.
Brothers Noel and Rolland Rosa, third-generation dairy farmers, branched out in 2012 to open a unique creamery in Tulare, Calif., that sells milk in glass bottles. In addition to regular and 2 percent milk, they bottle chocolate, strawberry and root-beer-flavored milk. They also use their milk to make several flavors of ice cream.
"People have a nostalgia about the glass bottles but customers who don't have that memory tell us that it tastes fresher and is colder," said Noel Rosa.
A large volume of milk from dozens of dairies is processed daily in the city of Tulare, which is virtually the center of dairy production in California, but Noel Rosa said that his customers like knowing all the milk in his glass bottles comes from just one dairy: Rosa.
Rosa's Hanford dairy has been in the family 60 years. Noel and Rolland's grandfather, Frank Rosa, started the dairy. His son, Manuel, took over in 1953. The brothers bought out their father in 1998. Rolland oversees the day-to-day operation of the 1,000-cow dairy and its 14 employees. Noel manages the creamery, which employs 12.
Tours of both facilities are available to the public, and Noel Rosa said they welcome hundreds of schoolchildren as well as other visitors who have never seen how a dairy operates.
Few dairies are set up for tours, but Noel Rosa said he thinks they gain customers for their milk and appreciation of the dairy business when people see how the dairy is operated. The dairy has a visitor center where tour guides can answer questions before visitors take a bus ride through the dairy.
At the creamery in Tulare, visitors can watch milk being bottled and ice cream being made. Besides milk and ice cream, the retail store sells locally produced cheeses, locally grown nuts and snack items and even Portuguese sweet bread.
Tours of the dairy and the creamery give consumers a chance to see the entire chain of production, and that benefits the entire industry, Noel Rosa said.
Other dairy producers are supportive of what we do," Noel Rosa said. "When more people are buying and drinking milk it's good for the whole industry."
The creamery venture is working well, Noel Rosa said. The operation takes less than 10 percent of the milk produced on the dairy, but the added value of the products brings good returns for the dairy, which helps offset current low milk prices.
In addition to their retail store in Tulare, Rosa Dairy sells milk products in more than a dozen stores to the north and south of Tulare.
Their big breakthrough in consumer appreciation came recently when their glass-bottled milk was awarded the People's Choice award for new products at the Fresno Food Expo.
Rosa Brothers Milk Co.
Owners: Noel and Rolland Rosa (third generation)
Location: Hanford and Tulare, Calif.
Number of cows: 1,000
Years in farming: 60
Employees: 14 at the dairy, 12 at the creamery
Quote: "When more people are buying and drinking milk it's good for the whole industry." -- Noel Rosa