By Sherry Bunting
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — The iconic Readington Farms plant bottling milk brands for ShopRite and other stores — both subsidiaries of Wakefern Foods Corp. — is “concluding negotiations to procure its milk and other beverages from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA),” according to an email response today (Dec. 23, 2021) from Karen O’Shea, Wakefern corporate communications. (The communication came after Farmshine’s press deadline, and this updates the brief mention in this week’s Milk Market Moos.)
“The transition from Readington to DFA is expected to begin sometime in January 2022 and continue until all our stores are serviced by our new provider. We are also working with DFA on a path to offer cooperative membership to the dedicated direct shippers who currently supply Readington, if they so choose,” O’Shea stated.
According to its website, Readington Farms is currently served by over 150 independent dairy farms and the Whitehouse, New Jersey plant processes 15,000 gallons of milk per hour.
DFA is a national cooperative with 7000 members and seven fluid milk and beverage plants in the Northeast/Midatlantic trading region, many of them purchased during the Dean Foods bankruptcy sale in May 2020. DFA purchased the Cumberland Dairy in Bridgeton, N.J. in November 2017.
In 2019, Readington Farms was authorized a $2.5 million RACP grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Authority to build a new milk plant and headquarters in the Lehigh Valley. Pre-design plan review was to be part of the Upper Macungie Township Planning Commission’s August 2021 meeting, but this review was postponed to October and again postponed to January 2022, according to township agendas and minutes.
According to Wakefern, this new facility will not be pursued and no public funds were received or accepted. The company will withdraw its grant application for a facility in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
“Readington and Wakefern considered a number of locations in the region as potential sites for a new fluid processing dairy. After an extensive search and exploration of all possibilities and costs, Wakefern decided not to pursue a new facility and instead procure its milk and other beverages from a third-party provider,” O’Shea reported.
“Currently, Wakefern is concluding negotiations with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) to provide its fluid milk and other beverages. In addition to their network of 7,000 dairy farmers, DFA also has seven fluid milk processing facilities located in our trading area that will serve Wakefern’s needs,” she said.