Dairy or not, Elmhurst is staying in the milk business.
Prior to shuttering last October after it was deemed no longer profitable, Elmhurst Dairy was solidly in the former camp, representing one of the largest dairy operations on the East Coast. The family-owned company, headed by Henry Schwartz, had been an institution for 92 years, producing more than 5.6 million quarts of milk every week at its sprawling facility in Queens, N.Y., much of which went to supplying the 1,800 schools in the New York City public education system.
After spending decades in the milk space, Schwartz wasn’t ready to exit completely. Now reborn as Elmhurst Milked, the family has launched a new non-dairy operation headquartered upstate in Elma, N.Y., home to another Schwartz-owned business, Steuben Foods.
Elmhurst Milked unveiled its premiere line of non-dairy products — dubbed “milked nuts” — at Natural Products Expo West in March in four varieties: almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts. All are produced and bottled on-premise at the company’s new 30,000 sq. ft. production facility in Elma.
In an e-mail to BevNET, Schwartz said that the learning curve in transitioning from traditional dairy to nut milks “wasn’t significant” because he prioritized hiring individuals with a background in the vegan food space. Dr. Cheryl Mitchell, a former food scientist who worked on non-dairy R&D for Hain Celestial, helped develop a proprietary processing technique for Elmhurst in which whole, raw nuts are cold milled to extract all protein, fat and nutrient content, foregoing the need for fortifying the liquid with additional emulsifiers, stabilizers or thickeners.
Schwartz said that Elmhurst aims to distinguish itself from other nut milk producers through “our total commitment to health, quality and transparency.” He said that Elmhurst’s milked nuts contain up to four times the amount of nuts as other leading brands in the space.
The entire line of milked nuts are vegan, lactose-free, kosher, and non-GMO certified. The suggested retail price for Milked Almond and Milked Walnut flavors are $4.99, while Milked Hazelnut and Milked Cashew are priced at $5.99. All varieties are available in 32 oz multi-serve format.
Elmhurst Milked is currently available at 1,100 Publix retail locations in the Florida and Atlanta markets, and Schwartz said the company plans to continue rolling out the milked nuts line to additional markets through 2017. Looking further ahead, he noted that he was exploring the idea of introducing a sugar-free variety in the future.
“At the end of the day, whether dealing in dairy milk or nut milk, it’s all about delivering a consistent, nutritious product that consumers will trust and enjoy,” Schwartz said. “In that sense, nothing about my work has changed.”