Horizon® Celebrates 20 Years of Organic Leadership

Nation’s Leading Organic Dairy Brand Reflects on Key Milestones and Introduces New Online Horizon Organic Stewardship Resource

BROOMFIELD, Colo.--()--Horizon®, the leading organic dairy brand in the U.S., is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011 and reflecting on its growth from a small organic yogurt brand to not only the top-selling organic milk brand in the U.S., but the top-selling milk brand, conventional or organic.

“Over the past 20 years, Horizon has grown its network of family farmers from seven to more than 600, and helped create and grow the organic dairy category,” said Mike Ferry, Horizon president. “While we are proud to celebrate these achievements throughout our 20th anniversary year, we are also marking the occasion by reaffirming our commitment to sustainable agriculture, to advancing the organic movement and to our family farmer partners.”

A Story of Organic Heritage

The Horizon story began in Boulder, Colo., in 1991 when two veterans of the natural foods industry, Mark Retzloff and Paul Repetto, saw a potential market for organic dairy products and decided to take a chance on the venture. Although the company first launched with six flavors of organic yogurt, it quickly became clear that the real opportunity was with organic milk.

Prior to Horizon, there were very few organic milk options for consumers. Horizon aimed to change this, and started by procuring milk from a co-op of seven farmers in Wisconsin. Over the next 20 years, Horizon experienced a number of milestones, including:

  • 1993: Half gallons of Horizon organic milk are launched, leading to a boom in demand from retailers and consumers.
  • 1994: Horizon becomes the first national organic dairy brand, in part to offer consumers an alternative following the FDA’s approval of the use of rBGH in conventional dairy cattle.
  • 1995: The brand expands the organic dairy category with the introduction of the first organic sour cream, half and half and butter products.
  • 1998: Horizon goes public on the NASDAQ, reinforcing the idea that good organic companies can accelerate their growth and support local farmers at the same time, while meeting consumer demand for quality organic dairy products.
  • 1999: The first national Horizon ad campaign is launched, which is also the first national organic campaign of any kind, helping to create demand for organic milk – and opportunities for organic dairy farmers.
  • 2001: Horizon introduces the Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) program to help farmers transition to organic, provide organic farmers with information on topics important to their business and support organizations that benefit family farms and the environment.
  • 2001: Horizon introduces the first shelf-stable milk boxes. Since their introduction, they have become a staple in millions of U.S. households.
  • 2002: The USDA National Organic Program regulations become law. Horizon has since worked hard to advocate for and strengthen the regulations.
  • 2003: A long-term relationship with Farm Aid is initiated. Since 2003, Horizon has donated $375,000 to the organization to help keep family farmers on their land.
  • 2004: Horizon acquired by Dean Foods (NYSE: DF).
  • 2004: Horizon becomes part of WhiteWave Foods, a division of Dean Foods.
  • 2005: Horizon begins purchasing renewable wind energy certificates from Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset 100 percent of the electricity used to manufacture its products at its company-owned plants, an investment which to date is the equivalent of removing nearly 14,000 passenger vehicles from the road each year.
  • 2007: The brand launches the first organic milk with plant-based Omega-3 DHA. Since then, Horizon has added more than 370 family farmers to its network.
  • 2007: Horizon launches its Standards of Care, detailing its livestock and farm management practices and beliefs, which were developed in collaboration with organic industry partners and reviewed by the non-profit organization Conservation International.
  • 2010: Horizon reports that it kept 18 million pounds of pesticides off farming land that year thanks to its organic practices.
  • 2011: Horizon introduces the first fat-free organic milk with plant-based Omega-3 DHA, as well as 1% milk boxes with reduced fat, calories and sugar.

While these milestones mark times of growth and change for the brand, its commitments to advancing the organic industry, supporting family farmers and respecting the environment have not wavered. The brand holds these commitments as strongly today as it did 20 years ago, and is always striving to help educate consumers about the benefits of organic food and to further support family farmers and the advancement of organic agriculture.

“It’s really satisfying how consumers have responded to Horizon products over the past 20 years,” said Paul Repetto, co-founder of Horizon. “There were no organic milk options for Moms when we started, so milk produced ‘from organic farms using no drugs or pesticides,’ as the first package said, was very welcome. Since then, though, Horizon has continued to earn people’s trust (and become the largest organic brand in the country) by being a committed supporter of organic, not permitting any growth hormones, and actively helping more than 600 independent farmers earn a sustainable living. The many people who have joined the company since the beginning have really kept the flame burning!”

The Horizon Story Today

Today, there are more than 50 USDA-certified organic dairy products carrying the Horizon logo. All Horizon organic products are produced in strict adherence with the USDA organic regulations, without the use of added growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics, and also continue to be made without genetically modified organisms, artificial colors or flavors.

Throughout its history, Horizon has been committed to being transparent about its business and farming practices. To that end, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, Horizon is introducing a new Horizon Organic Stewardship resource that will be updated regularly, providing facts and data on the company and its dairy farms, including its more than 600 family farmers and its two company-owned farms. The full document is available at www.horizondairy.com/why-organic/our-farms/. Highlighted facts, current as of September 2011, include:

Milk Supply Sources

Ninety-four percent of Horizon’s USDA-certified organic milk supply comes from family-owned organic dairy farms. Six percent of Horizon’s milk supply comes from the brand’s two company-owned organic dairy farms.

Family Farm Facts

Total number of family farms: 624

  • Number of family farms currently supplying milk to Horizon: 543
  • Number of family farms in the process of converting to organic: 81
  • Number of states where family farms are located: 23
    • Horizon currently has family farmers throughout the country, with the highest concentration in the Midwest and Northeast
  • Average number of milking cows on family farms: 90
  • Number of milking cows on smallest family farm (New York): 7
  • Farms with fewer than 100 milking cows: 531
  • Farms with 100 – 199 milking cows: 51
  • Farms with 200 – 499 milking cows: 22
  • Farms with 500 – 999 milking cows: 8
  • Farms with 1,000 – 2,000 milking cows: 12
  • Farms with more than 2,000 milking cows: 0

Horizon Paul, Idaho Farm Facts

  • Certified organic since 1994
  • Number of milking cows: 2,400
  • Total Acres: 8,939
  • Total Pasture Acres: 4,030
  • Third-party organic certifier: Quality Assurance International (QAI)
  • Forage and Feed: 100 percent of the farm's organic, diversified forage is grown on-site as well as nearly 80 percent of overall feed needs on the farm. Crops raised include pasture (perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, festolium and orchard grass; and alsike clover, birdsfoot trefoil and red clover), corn, alfalfa, and hay for silage; and barley, field peas, and flax.
  • Animal Welfare: Each cow has her own stall in the dairy with a special mattress to keep her dry and comfortable. The farm’s efficient rotary-style milking parlor allows a cow to be milked comfortably in about eight minutes. All calves are raised on-site as a best practice for ensuring the organic integrity of the herd.
  • Holistic Management and Resource Conservation: High-efficiency lighting and low water-use fixtures are installed throughout the dairy. One hundred percent of the manure generated by the herd on site is used as a nutrient to enrich crop and pasture land. More than 1,000 poplar trees were planted on the grounds as windbreaks and to improve the soil, increase carbon sequestration and prevent erosion.

Horizon Kennedyville, Md. Farm Facts

  • Certified organic since 1998
  • Number of milking cows: 500
  • Total Acres: 973
  • Total Pasture Acres: 370
  • Third Party Organic certifier: QAI
  • Forage and feed: 100 percent of the farm's organic, diversified forage is grown on-site as well as nearly 50 percent of the farm’s overall feed needs. The pasture is a grass and alfalfa mix, and other crops include sudex, clover, alfalfa, triticale, barley and corn.
  • Animal Welfare: Each cow has her own stall in the dairy with a special mattress to keep her dry and comfortable. The farm’s state-of-the-art maternity barn ensures that cows are healthy, calm and comfortable during pregnancy and calving.
  • Holistic Management and Resource Conservation: The farm conserves water via a berm and dam structure along a nearby creek that minimizes erosion and captures rainwater. The dam can hold up to six million gallons of rainwater runoff, which is used to irrigate the farm’s pastures. The gutter system on the barn captures rainwater, which is then stored for pasture irrigation. One hundred percent of the manure generated by the herd on site is used as a nutrient to enrich crop and pasture land. The farm’s shop building features solar-heated water and efficient radiant floor heating.

In honor of its 20th anniversary, Horizon will also engage consumers online with a variety of activities in October, including the release of an infographic highlighting the brand’s history and growth, and a Facebook promotion that will help raise money for Farm Aid. The brand will donate $1 to Farm Aid, up to a total of $10,000, for every “Like” on the Horizon Facebook page.

For more information about Horizon, visit www.horizondairy.com or the Horizon Facebook page.

About Horizon Organic

Horizon is committed to providing great-tasting, organic dairy products that nourish families and build healthy foundations. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Horizon is proud to be an organic industry pioneer and the first company to supply organic milk nationally. Over the past 20 years, Horizon has grown to become not only the leading organic dairy brand in the U.S., but the largest national organic brand in the country. Today, Horizon works with 543 family farmers across the country to supply 94 percent of its organic milk. Horizon offers a delicious variety of certified organic dairy products made with simple ingredients and produced without the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones or pesticides. In an effort to protect the earth and its natural resources, Horizon offsets the energy used to produce its products with clean, renewable wind power. For more information about Horizon, visit www.horizonorganic.com. Horizon is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Horizon and Twitter at http://twitter.com/horizondairy.


WhiteWave Foods
Luana Hancock, 303-635-4448


WhiteWave Foods
Luana Hancock, 303-635-4448