Another major yogurt-maker goes hormone-free (changed headline)

Note from desmoinesdem: I changed the headline after Midwest Mom pointed out in the comments that Anderson-Erickson already uses milk from cows not treated with synthetic hormones. Thanks to Midwest Mom for the comment--apparently the company made the change in 2008.

I saw this news at La Vida Locavore:

General Mills announced today that it has made the commitment to eliminate by August 2009 milk sourced from cows treated with rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin), a synthetic hormone also referred to as rBGH, in the production of its category-leading Yoplait® yogurts.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Institutes of Health remain fully confident in the safety of products made from milk sourced from cows treated with rBST in accordance with current guidelines, Yoplait is taking the initiative to change its dairy sourcing strategy to provide consumers with the option to choose a category-leading yogurt with milk produced by cows not treated with rBST.

As Jill Richardson notes at La Vida Locavore, this is big news because Yoplait is by far the largest brand of yogurt to go rBGH-free.

Beginning this summer, Iowans will see hormone-free yogurt in their grocery store's regular dairy case and not just in special organic sections or health food stores. (Smaller companies like Stonyfield Farms, Brown Cow and Nancy's have avoided milk produced by hormone-treated cows for years.)

CORRECTION: As noted above, Des Moines-based Anderson-Erickson, a hugely popular source of yogurt and other dairy products in Iowa, went rGBH-free in 2008.

The company prides itself on the quality of its products:

Future expansion of AE's market share will rely heavily on brand equity. "We believe very strongly in our brand," says [president and chief operating officer Miriam Erickson] Brown. "The AE name stands for quality dairy products and service. We never skimp on ingredients. AE yogurts contain 5 percent more fruit; we are famous for double-sealing all of our packaging and our unique cottage cheese recipe. We get 'love letters' from customers thanking us for making a favorite dairy product. Our goal is to continue to be 'dairy experts.' We can do that through continued standards of excellence as well as innovative new products and sales expansion."

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Will Iowans stick with AE yogurt no matter what, or will Yoplait be able to increase its market share by promoting its decision to forgo milk from cows treated with synthetic hormones?

CORRECTION: AE was ahead of Yoplait on this issue, so I don't think Yoplait's move will affect AE's market share.

Feel free to discuss your favorite AE product in this thread as well. My brother always wants the old fashioned cottage cheese when he is back for a visit. Before he had to watch his weight, he loved potato chips with AE French onion party dip.

I don't buy any AE products on a regular basis anymore, because we stick to organic milk, yogurt and cottage cheese.  

  • Yogurt, cottage cheese, and the best chip dip ever

    My boys start every morning with a small bowl of AE low-fat yogurt.  The older one prefers vanilla; the younger goes all out for the Cherry-Vanilla.  My husband adores the low-fat cottage cheese and I'm with your brother on the French onion dip, although it's reserved for the very rare saturated fat splurge in our household anymore.

    Living on the East coast for five years gave us a renewed appreciation for the quality of dairy produced here in the Midwest.  My brothers-in-law in St. Louis fill a small cooler with AE treats to take home every time they visit the Des Moines area.  I love my AE products.

    I wonder if, along with their switch to rBST-free milk, Yoplait will also make an effort to market products that use less packaging and include fewer unnecessary ingredients.  I like to buy the tubs of low-fat yogurt rather than individual serving sizes, and my only choices at the local grocery stores tend to be AE and Dannon. Dannon costs about 50-cents more per unit than AE.  I don't feel strongly about using organic dairy products, but I do want to buy foods that are as "whole" as possible, that are packaged responsibly, and that work within my weekly grocery budget.  Yoplait's Trix yogurt and Go-gurt definitely do not qualify.

    • we mostly buy large tubs of yogurt

      Stonyfield Farms, Nancy's or Redwood (goat yogurt--that's my favorite). It is significantly more expensive, but I prefer to eat less dairy and spend the extra money on organic.

      You are right about excessive packaging and unnecessary ingredients being a problem. I sometimes let my son have fruit yogurt, but I would rather give him plain yogurt with a little jam or maple syrup mixed in.

      I'm surprised your brothers-in-law can't get AE in St. Louis. I know that many grocery stores in Kansas City carry the stuff.

      I have heard of people flying back to Arizona with coolers of AE dairy products.

  • Re: less dairy and a question

    We've significantly reduced our dairy and red meat intake in recent years - mostly in the pursuit of the solution to a genetic high cholesterol problem on my part.

    Along those lines and off-topic from the AE thread (so my apologies on that), any tips on pre-soaking/boiling beans and freezing for later use?  I use beans regularly and am lucky that our boys love almost all kinds.  I don't like to use canned beans, though, as the sodium content is alarming and I'd prefer to avoid the added preservatives.  My problem is that any time I've tried to pre-soak, cook and freeze beans, they tend to get mushy in the process.   I'm stumped and have been polling for solutions from any and all bean-eaters in my acquaintance.

    • I'm not big on freezing food

      because I often don't like the texture when it's reheated. I do not have experience with freezing cooked beans.

      I recommend posting your question in an open thread at La Vida Locavore. I'm sure some people there will have ideas.

      Kudos to you for getting your kids to eat beans! Mine still reject them in all forms, but then again, so did I when I was their age.

      I also applaud you for cooking your own beans. I tend to use a lot of canned beans to save time, but it is healthier (and cheaper) to soak and cook your own.

      • AE Dairy IS rbst-free

        I also look to buy products that are hormone free, however if you look on AE Dairy's home page you will notice that ALL of their products are free of hormones and have been for some time.

        While I am happy that Yoplait will soon become hormone free as well, I hardly think they are a leader. AE Dairy has, by far, a superior, healthier product and always has.

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