September 3, 2014

Southwest Florida

Meeting Needs of Schools for Lower Calorie Milk Products

Southwest Florida farm and dairy supplier provides lower-sugar chocolate milk to schools.

Art Levy | 3/1/2012

Dale McClellan

[Photo: Ron O'Conner/Farm Credit]

M&B Products

Headquarters: Temple Terrace, with a 320-acre dairy farm in Lecanto, Citrus County

Employees: 160

Products: Milk, juice, water, dessert bars

Market: 20 school districts statewide, nursing homes, other institutions
After his family's Sunny Brook Dairy went out of business in the late 1970s, Dale McClellan decided to run things a little differently when he founded a new dairy operation, M&B Products. At the company's Citrus County farm, for example, the cows sleep on waterbeds because, McClellan says, comfortable cows eat more and produce more milk.

McClellan also ships M&B's milk cartons unconventionally, shunning traditional plastic milk crates for corrugated cardboard boxes that he partnered with International Paper to develop. He says the stackable cardboard flats are cheaper, save space during shipping and are lighter. M&B, which sells exclusively to schools and the institutional market, is one of the first dairies in the nation to stop using plastic crates.

McClellan saw an opportunity last school year when the state Department of Education proposed banning flavored milk from school lunch menus amid concerns that the high sugar content of the drinks contributes to childhood obesity. Working with Beverly Girard, food services director of the Sarasota County School District, M&B came up with a chocolate milk recipe that cut the sugar in each eight-ounce serving from 26 grams to 22. He acknowledges the sugar content is still high but says he doesn't want to cut so much sugar that the schoolchildren "throw the milk in the trash."

Girard says the children "didn't even notice" the cut to 22 grams, but McClellan did. "I didn't like it as well, but when I stopped looking for the differences, I thought the new formula was good," he says. "I found out through this process that I like things sweeter than my own grandkids."

Tags: Southwest, Agriculture

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