Friday, October 05, 2012

What's happened to Liberté?

Liberté Yogurt has gone through some changes recently as you may have noticed.  Here’s some information:

Liberté Natural Foods was an independent company based out of Brampton, Ontario, a local producer by the Coop’s 500-mile definition. The milk for their cows milk products was bought from a Vermont farmers’ cooperative that we were happy to support being a fellow cooperative.

In late 2010, Yoplait brands acquired Liberté Natural Foods.  At first there was little change.  Then a few products were changed or discontinued.  Some lines – like the Goat Yogurt – were eliminated completely.  But similar to the way Stonyfield remains independently run though owned by Groupe Danone (Dannon), Liberté’s products did not change too much for the next year.

In July 2011 General Mills took control of Yoplait and Liberté line has undergone significant changes.  The packaging changed.  The large-sized lowfat style was eliminated.  And most significantly, the sourcing of the ingredients has changed and the manufacturing has moved.

The St. Albans Cooperative in Vermont no longer supplies the milk used to make Libreté yogurt. Production has moved to Tennessee.  The sourcing of the milk is hard to determine – possibly in Tennessee but I’ve also heard California.  The side of the container says “made with milk from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH” – the bare minimum standard for most milk products these days and in any yogurt we sell.

Liberté is cheaper than ever to buy.  While this may be reflection of the efficiencies inherent in huge corporations, it may also be a reflection of the ingredients used. 

Members still buy huge amounts of Liberté yogurt.  Many members may not have known about the changes in the product.  The Coop is not going to stop selling Liberté although it would no longer be considered “local” and does not appear to have any relationship to any farmers’ cooperatives. So long as members show a desire and there are not any other significant changes to the product, we will continue to sell Liberté Yogurt for the foreseeable future.

Cooperatively yours,
Peter the Coordinator who resides in Yogurtland

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