We had a chance to speak with Russ Rimmer, new CEO of Avalon Dairy, last week! For those that haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced, we’re going to share a bit more about this 111 year old business!
111 years makes Avalon the oldest running dairy in British Columbia, started by the Crowley family delivering door-to-door with a horse and buggy. There have been a lot of firsts for Avalon— from being pioneer supporters of organic to being the first to use glass bottles, and now, the first to offer traceable milk. Each bottle is stamped with a date/time code which allows the milk to be to traced back to the lot, the milk supply, and the specific farm — assuring the highest level of safety possible for Avalon customers and their families.
“We keep it as simple as possible—100% natural ingredients, probiotics, all good for you — that’s been the focus since day 1”- Russ Rimmer, CEO of Avalon Dairy
Based out of Burnaby, British Columbia is the cornerstone of Avalon’s business. To Russ, supporting local means providing products with the attributes, features, and benefits that are important to British Columbians first. Supporting local also means sourcing ingredients as close to their production facility as possible. In BC, the BC Milk Marketing Board controls the flow of milk delivery from dairy farms which means Avalon milk could technically come from anywhere in BC. However, since there are only about 18 organic BC dairy farms and most are located in the Fraser Valley— they can say with certainty that Avalon milk is most often sourced within 50km of their production facility in Burnaby.
What we loved hearing is that Avalon milk is highly likely to be on shelf within 36-48 hours — making it, by far, the freshest choice for west-coast Canadians.
Being Certified Canadian Organic means that their partner farms are Non-GMO, do not use toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, and abide by humane animal health and welfare standards, including mandated outdoor access and no antibiotic treatments. One of their favourite partner dairy farms is Donia Farms in South Surrey, about 10 miles from Avalon.
With under 40 employees, Russ described his team to be a small group of like-minded individuals with a focus on family, integrity, creativity, and the desire to both have an impact and make a great product. Avalon dairy makes what Russ calls, “the best chocolate milk in the world,” regular milks, yogurt, cottage cheese, and a range of other dairy products. In the coming years, Russ hopes to see Avalon get more into healthy variations of their cultured products.
Avalon’s glass milk bottles are returned, cleaned, and re-used!
We laughed at the different ways customers are re-purposing their classic glass bottles. Some collect the different years, Russ’ wife plants flower in them, and I shared how I’ve been using them to propagate indoor house plants.
Always looking to gain insight from successful food producers to provide guidance for up-and-comers, here is Russ’ advice for new food businesses:
“Balance the entrepreneurial desire to come up with something great and cool and wonderful with the business acumen to make sure that you can run it, be profitable, and be a sustainable business.”
Great advice, indeed. Thanks for opening your doors to us, Avalon! We are excited to see your popularity grow among a new generation of health and environmentally conscious consumers.
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