New Opportunities In 2024

Nobody’s kidding themselves. 2024 in any area of the dairy industry is going to be a challenge. Greg Schlafer’s been there. Schlafer walked into the very financially stressed arms of Foremost Farms USA in November of 2019, and has been busy trying to right the ship since. Prior to joining Foremost Farms, Schlafer served as Vice President, Food Group Sales & Marketing at J.R. Simplot Company. While there, he helped transform the front end of the food processor’s business. Now he’s trying to use some of that knowledge to reimagine where Foremost Farms can takes it’s products moving forward.

Moving into 2024, Schlafer has found some new avenues of opportunity he’s excited for the cooperative to pursue. He spent some time recapping where the cooperative has been, and why he sold the original headquarters of the cooperative in Baraboo to refocus resources and energy in new office space on the west side of Middleton.

One area that Schlafer sees as a bright spot in 2024 is developing technology to upcycle the dairy co-products that the cooperative generates. In November, Foremost announced a new partnership with cell programming and biosecurity firm, Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA). Ginkgo’s goal is to help Foremost build a technology to reduce this carbon footprint by upcycling these low-value co-products. This process could provide an environmentally friendly alternative to wasteful and carbon-intensive chemical production through domestic, sustainable biomanufacturing solutions.

Ginkgo’s platform gives us access to everything we need to move from concept to commercialization faster, providing a competitive advantage,” said Greg Schlafer, President and CEO, Foremost Farms. “We are innovating to continue our trajectory as environmental stewards that take care of our world and create value for dairy farm families by potentially lowering manufacturing costs and creating a significant new revenue stream for those farmers.”

“Ginkgo is always on the lookout for opportunities to use biology to create more sustainable products, and we are especially interested in helping customers in legacy industries develop improved production processes and a more circular economy,” said Jennifer Wipf, Ginkgo’s Head of Commercial, Cell Engineering. “We’re eager to put our advanced metabolic engineering capabilities to work for Foremost Farms and are proud to help accelerate efforts focused on sustainable biomanufacturing.”

“We’re in a unique position to leverage Ginkgo’s expertise because their flexible R&D service offerings allow us to creatively approach this significant opportunity in our value chain,” said Declan Roche, Chief Commercial Officer at Foremost Farms. “With Ginkgo, we’re able to pursue this exciting opportunity while minimizing our internal R&D fixed costs and allowing our team to remain focused on our core business.”