Elmhurst Dairy to shut down operations in NYC after almost 100 years

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Elmhurst Dairy will no longer process and bottle its line of milk products for the New York City area.
Elmhurst Dairy will no longer process and bottle its line of milk products for the New York City area.

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New York City-based milk processing plant Elmhurst Dairy will officially shut down its operations after nearly 100 years in business, resulting in the layoff of its 273 employees. 

"It is with deep emotion and sadness that I announce Elmhurst Dairy and its family of ownership, management and employees will conclude more than 80 years of milk production at its Queens' processing plant," ​Schwartz said in a statement.

Elmhurst Dairy has remained in the Schwartz family ever since it was started by brothers Max and Arthur Schwartz in 1919 on the family’s 40-acre dairy farm in the Queens borough of New York City. In 1940, the brothers moved the dairy manufacturing facility to Jamaica, Queens, where it has remained for the past 76 years.

The family-owned and-operated dairy processed raw milk from farms in upstate New York, and bottled and distributed the milk to New York City’s five boroughs. Elmhurst Dairy was the last remaining milk processing plant that packaged its own dairy products within the New York City limits.

The plant has 12 milk silos that contain a day’s worth of milk for the New York City area, according to the company.

At its production peak, Elmhurst Dairy produced more than 5.6m quarts of milk per week and its customer base, which included approximately 11m people.

The decision to close Elmhurst Dairy followed many years of attempting to find a method of making the operation feasible in the difficult market, the company said.

Cash cow runs out

According to the company’s website,  the milk processing plant supplies milk to over 8,300 grocers and 1,400 public schools.

However, CEO Henry Schwartz told The New York Times,​ "My family was dedicated to trying to keep the plant open long past the years that it was economically viable because it was the wishes of its founder, Max Schwartz, that future generations of the family continue the business.  The family did so at a very high cost but is unable to continue to do so without ongoing losses​."

A new generation of the Elmhurst name

Even though Elmhurst’s traditional dairy products including its four milk varieties (whole, 2%, 1%, and skim) and cream will be discontinued the company name will live on under the Elmhurst Naturals and Elmhurst Harvest brands.

The newer brands make dairy and non-dairy products including walnut-milk based items, Banana Water, and its line of Horchata-inspired milk drinks​.

Unlike Elmhurst Dairy products, which are only available in the metro New York area, Elmhurst Naturals and Elmhurst Harvest products can be purchased in major retail stores including Wegman’s, Albertson’s, and Sam’s Club. 

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1 comment

The cancer of Everyday Low Price

Posted by John,

Betting that Elmhurst closed due to margin erosion, its sad to see so many shutdowns of small and médium companies in the wake of the abusive terms of large Suoermarket chains. I can only hope authorities factor in the colateral damage of such low Price strategies, including low wages ans diminished competition.

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