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Search for healthier options gives CNY dairy producers a boost

Byrne Hallow Farm's yogurt manufacturing plant in Cortland (CNYCentral Photo)

It's a growing trend when it comes to dairy products. Consumers are turning toward healthier options like lactose-free milk, higher protein Greek yogurt and even milk from grass-fed cows — all of it organic.

It's that trend that is giving Byrne Dairy — a major staple store in central New York — a business boost.

"Organic milk in general is very popular with the consumer. People look at an organic product as a healthier product," said Tom Howland, general manager of Byrne Dairy's Byrne Hallow Farm's yogurt manufacturing plant in Cortland.

Howland said the increased demand for healthier dairy products has helped boost production at the plant by 20 percent.

They now produce 100,000 pounds of yogurt, and all of the milk used at the Cortland plant comes from local dairy farmers.

"The demand for healthy dairy products has been good news for Byrne Dairy's manufacturing plant here in Cortland. So good that they are now running their production lines here at their facility in Cortland 24 hours a day, 7 days a week just to keep up with the demand," Howland said.

Dairy farms are an important part of the local economy. New York state is the third largest dairy producer in the country. And Byrne Dairy's four manufacturing plants in central New York employ more than 600 people.

Kimberly Rossi said consumers like knowing their dairy comes from local sources.

"It's a complete farm-to-table establishment from the time that comes from the farm to your table," Rossi said. "It's only a matter of two to three days."

Analysts expect the demand for healthy dairy products will continue to grow as more health-conscious consumers start seeking these products out.

That's good news for Byrne Hallow Farm and good news for yogurt lovers as well.

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