Big Y Foods Forms Milk Partnership with HP Hood

MassLive, June 7th, 2016, by Mary Serreze.

Big Y Foods Inc. and milk processor HP Hood LLC have announced an expanded partnership they say will support the regional farm economy, create jobs and strengthen operations at the two Massachusetts-based family businesses.

Hood now supplies Big Y’s store-brand milk, allowing the dairy plant in Agawam to add 12 new jobs and process an additional 5 million gallons of milk every year, company representatives said at an informal luncheon celebration at the Hood plant Tuesday.

“We have long coveted a deeper relationship with Big Y,” said John Kaneb, Hood’s president and CEO. He said the two iconic New England companies built a strong, new partnership in a short period of time. “We see things the same way; we have very much the same values,” he said

“Our company, celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is partnering with another great family business,” said Charles D’Amour, president of Big Y Foods. “Hood is an institution in New England.”

HP Hood is headquartered in Lynnefield and operates in the six New England states and New York, buying milk from two major dairy cooperatives. The company has been in business 180 years. Big Y Foods, headquartered in Springfield, operates supermarkets and convenience stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Members of the D’Amour family also said that in honor of National Dairy Month, for every gallon of milk sold during June, Big Y will donate five cents to a grant program for farmers run by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation.

The Local Farmer Awards program makes mid-sized capital grants to farmers to purchase equipment to boost their business operations. Last year, the program supported physical plant improvements at 47 small farms in the four western counties of Massachusetts.

Cari Carpenter, who directs the program for the charitable fund started by Harold Grinspoon, said the goal is “to strengthen family farmers’ ability to compete in the marketplace.” She named some of the items acquired through the program, including a “potato digger, water wheel transplanter, Hobart spinner and plumbing connection from a well to a sugar house.”

Along with the generous support of sponsors, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and MGM Springfield, farmers have already put to great use the award for projects for farm improvements. This represents a 42 percent increase in awards from the 2015 inaugural year.

Julia Coffey, whose family runs a year-round mushroom farm in Westhampton, said help from the grant program was invaluable. She purchased a commercial autoclave to sterilize the mushrooms’ growing medium, allowing for much greater efficiencies of scale. As a result, she was able to hire workers, “making us a viable family farm and employer.”

D’Amour said that at Mycoterra Farms, “business is mushrooming” thanks to the grant program and Coffey’s hard work and business sense.

Agawam Mayor Richard A. Cohen said Hood “creates and sustains local jobs for local people.” The local plant employs around 400 people. Claire D’Amour-Daley, Big Y’s vice president of corporate communications, said the company’s partnership with Hood will allow for a “better, fresher product.”

Donald D’Amour, chairman and CEO of Big Y foods, said the company has a longstanding relationship with local farmers. He said he “used to get Charlie up at 2 o’clock in the morning to go to the farmer’s market in Springfield” and that he “taught him how to drive a truck to deliver from the market to our stores.”

Executive Vice President Michael D’Amour said the relationships with Hood and Grinspoon are in keeping with the company’s commitment to community. “We also help dozens of small farmers and food producers bring their products to market,” he said. “Some of them only sell at one of two of our stores. We work with them to develop their businesses, give them feedback.”

A healthy farm economy benefits not only benefits Big Y’s bottom line, but helps support the quality of life in Western Massachusetts, he said.