As you walk past Oakhurst on Forest Avenue in Portland, you can look through a picture window into the processing area of Oakhurst. This is just a small part of the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution efforts required to get Oakhurst products to a store near you.
The entire process starts in the back of the facility where on average ten tanker trucks of milk are received every day. The milk is collected by milk haulers from approximately eighty farms located in Maine and Northern New England. These farms ship their milk exclusively to Oakhurst. Oakhurst has long standing relationships with most of the dairy farms that supply milk to Oakhurst, some for over seventy-five years. As with Oakhurst, many of these farms have been a part of Maine landscape for many generations and are all family owned and operated. All farms partnering with Oakhurst have a signed affidavit stating they will not treat their cows with artificial growth hormones. Samples of milk from each farm and each tanker are tested for antibiotics and upon completion of the testing the milk is off-loaded into raw milk storage silos.
From the silos, the milk is piped to the processing area in the front room of the facility that you can see from Forest Avenue. In the processing area the milk is separated to the proper level of butterfat. In the case of flavored milks like chocolate, the flavors are blended with the milk at this point. Fluid milk products are then homogenized, pasteurized and fortified with vitamins. Next, the product is piped into pasteurized tanks from which it is sent to any one of seven filling machines in the packaging area. Cultured products like buttermilk or sour cream are standardized to the proper fat level, and then sent to a cultured tank where they are held until the culturing process is complete. After completion of the culturing process, the product is sent to another filler in the packaging area.
The packaging area is where you can see it come together. Eight packaging machines may all be filling products at the same time. A computer system directs the products through a network of valves and stainless steel pipes so that each product gets to the proper filler at the right time. Each packaging machine fills a different size or style package. One filler produces the traditional 4oz/8oz paper packages that are found in schools. There are additional fillers for pint, quart, half gallon and gallon packages, these sizes are all plastic bottles. Another filler produces products filled in either 10 quart or 20 quart bags. The final filler is a cup filler that produces cultured items like sour cream.
Quality testing is conducted every step of the way through the processing and packaging areas. In fact, at Oakhurst Dairy, nothing short of perfection will do. Oakhurst set a record for achieving perfect scores from U.S. government inspectors. Oakhurst was one of the first dairy processors to voluntarily adopt the most modern and rigorous set of federal standards known as HACCP - Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points. Today, Oakhurst is one of only 12 dairies in the country currently implementing these exacting quality standards. Oakhurst has completed SQF Level 3 certification (Safe Quality Food). All the auditing and quality systems mean the very best quality for Oakhurst customers.
After filling, each product is cased and moves immediately to our modern refrigerated warehouses where it is put away for storage until loadout. The products location is recorded along with critical production information in a computer system. Orders are fulfilled using the computer system to ensure proper rotation of the inventory.
Products are selected in the warehouse to fulfill customer orders that come into our computerized system from our Route Sales handheld computers, our Customer Service Telemarketing computers or electronic data interface with our customers. Customers in Southern Maine are serviced from the Portland facility. For distant customers, trailer loads of product are shipped to one of five other distribution points. In Maine, these points are in Waterville, Bangor and Houlton. The other distribution point is in Hooksett New Hampshire. Local customers are serviced from each of these distribution points, off one of approximately 60 delivery routes.
In warehouse locations and on trucks, the temperature is constantly monitored to ensure the highest quality product possible is delivered to a store near you.
The Oakhurst motto to:
- Keep it "CLEAN"
- Keep it "COLD", and
- Keep it "MOVING",
means the freshest, highest quality products for customers and consumers!