New venture shakes up a dairy business
Standing outside Origin Food Group's yogurt facility in Iredell County, it's easy to see why the Stamey family built it where they did.
Their dairy cows are across the street.
As a result, the milk used to make Origin's new früsh yogurt shake is about as fresh as it can possibly be.
Stamey Farms has long been known for the strong genetics of its dairy herd. It routinely ships cows to international destinations.
That's how the Stamey family got to know the Alarcon family of Ecuador, who have their own thriving dairy operation. The Alarcons also have a successful business making a yogurt/fruit shake, which both families agreed could be successful here. They formed Origin to give it a go.
In other parts of the world, the dairy industry "is a more vertical business from the farm to retail," said Donald E. Greenlee, Origin's general manager. That is, the same people who own the cows also own the processing factories. They work directly with marketers and distributors to put their products in front of the consumer.
So that's what's happening at Origin, inside a refurbished truck stop just off Interstate 40 in Statesville. A $240,000 building reuse grant from the Rural Center helped to remake the truck stop into 17,000 square feet of laboratory and office space. Attached is a new 20,000-square-foot facility that houses the production aspects of the operation. Origin employs 25 people.
The $7 million facility opened in January 2012 with a ribbon-cutting attended by Gov. Beverly Perdue. The factory is now cranking out früsh, which is available at major grocery chains across the state. Four flavors of shakes are available: strawberry/banana, blueberry, peach and strawberry.
"The drinkable yogurt segment worldwide is tremendous," Greenlee said, noting that früsh is only the beginning. Origin is already looking into other products it could produce, perhaps eventually doubling its Statesville workforce.
"We are at the right place at the right time to really see tremendous growth," he said. "It will continue to grow as the business grows and we expand into other product lines."