At a time when home delivery is on the rise, Utah’s Winder Farms — which perfected the practice over its 139-year history — is ending the service.
Effective July 5, the company will stop its home deliveries and instead focus on putting its milk and other dairy products in grocery stores, the company announced Friday.
“We are seeing more and more customers enjoy the convenience of grocery store delivery and pickup,” said Mike Winder, a part owner and sixth-generation family member. “Consumers want the wide array [of products] that grocery stores can provide and we see our future as working with our grocery store partners.”
Winder Farms delivery drivers “will receive severance,” he said, "and, in this hot economy, they are having no problem finding their next job.”
The company’s signature yellow-and-white delivery trucks will be sold.
In the future, the company will put its efforts into “expanding into new stores and markets.” Winder Farm products are currently available in Dan’s, Dick’s, Fresh Market, Harmons, Lee’s Market, Macey’s, Ridley’s, Smith’s, Sprouts, Target, The Store, Whole Foods, Winegars and more.
While it will remain in business, Winder said, it marks the end of an era for one of Utah’s oldest businesses. “Our company has evolved a lot, during its century-plus history."
In 1880, Winder’s great-great-great-grandfather John R. Winder, along with his wife, Elizabeth, began selling milk to neighbors from their farm in what is now South Salt Lake. Back then, the drivers of horse-drawn wagons would pull up to a home and scoop milk from tall cans into customers’ kitchen pans.
In 1932, Winder Dairy, as it was eventually called, moved to a farm in what is now West Valley City.
In 1973, the family-owned dairy sold its herd of Jersey cows and began partnering with other family farms using black-and-white Holsteins. As Utahns became more health-conscious, the company focused on organic or all-natural milk, free of artificial growth hormones.
In 2010, the company shifted again, rebranding to Winder Farms and becoming a “farmers market on wheels." In addition to milk and other dairy products, it delivered fruits, vegetables, prepared salads, ready-to-eat meals and seasonal foods to customers’ doorsteps.
The service carried many Utah-made products, helping to boost other small food businesses in the state.
“They were a really important conduit for us with our freezer jam,” said Jared Weeks, whose family owns and operates Weeks Berries of Paradise. “They really helped introduce it to a larger group of customers."
However, over the past 24 months, “we have noticed a drop off in business," he said. “It’s kind of a sad thing. We used to do quite a bit of business with them."
The timing coincides with the rise of grocery store delivery and pickup services, fueled by technology and the internet, and the convenience demands of time-strapped families.
“We’re losing the nostalgia of the home delivery and, in our eyes, we’re sad to see it go," said Jenn Nelson, a senior vice president with Dairy West, an industry group that represents dairy farm families in Utah and Idaho.
Winder Farms finds itself in a Catch 22, she said, having pioneered home delivery, yet being forced out of the market by new delivery and pickup offerings.
“From a dairy perspective, though, it is great to see that we will still have local brands and local names,” she said, noting that besides Winder Farms, Utah has two other large milk providers with Meadow Gold in Salt Lake City and Gossner Foods in Cache Valley.
Jodi Hermansen had Winder Farms milk delivered to her South Jordan home for about 10 years when her children were young. She and her husband are now “empty nesters,” so they pick up half-gallon cartons at the grocery store.
“It’s sad that a longtime tradition is coming to end,” she said. “But as long as it’s in the stores and I can still get it, I’m all right.”
Winder Farms milestones:
1880 • John and Elizabeth Winder begin selling milk to neighbors from their farm in what is now South Salt Lake.
1932 • Winder family moves farm to Granger (now West Valley City).
1973 • Winder Dairy sells Jersey herd, begins partnering with other family farms using black-and-white Holstein cows.
2010 • Winder Dairy renamed Winder Farms on its 130th birthday.
2019 • Home delivery ends, focus shifts to selling milk in grocery stores.