RI dairy farm sees spike in milk sales as grocery stores struggle to keep shelves stocked

Coronavirus

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) ─ With the coronavirus pandemic closing schools and restaurants across the country, dairy farmers are struggling to sell their products.

The lack of demand has forced farmers nationwide to dump thousands of gallons of milk down the drain, but at Wright’s Dairy Farm and Bakery in North Smithfield, the situation is quite different.

Director of Dairy Operations Cathryn Kennedy tells Eyewitness News that while they have seen a drop in sales for some products, they’ve also seen a significant increase in others.

“We’re selling a lot of milk right now,” she said. “Grocery stores and large supply chains are struggling to keep the stores full.”

“We are really lucky, we have a short supply chain,” she added. “We have our cows here, we process here, so getting milk on the shelf is a matter of, ‘Do we need it?’ and then we make it.”

Kennedy said thankfully, Wright’s has remained busy with continuous, and growing, community support.

“This is just horrible for these family farms and small businesses,” Wright’s customer Don Phaneuf said. “So I do what I can to help, but I come here regardless. They’ve got the best milk. I’ve never had milk like this.”

Selling the “best milk” doesn’t come without challenges, however, since they’re working hard to keep up with the demand.

“For the first time, we’re having the conversation of, ‘OK, when we don’t have enough milk, what are we doing?'” Kennedy said. “Probably, it means we are going to buy more cows, which seems ridiculous when people are dumping milk, but it will at least take that milk out of the supply chain where the milk is getting dumped and move it here, where we can process it.”

Kennedy said even though they’ve seen a spike in milk sales, they’ve also seen a significant drop in demand for other products including pastries and gourmet cakes. She attributed that to the lack of events and gatherings while everyone practices social distancing.

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