It looked like a television commercial was being shot at Hy-Vee. The little goldilocks look alike was jumping up and down in the dairy isle. “Please Daddy can I have it? I want my own pink milk. Please Daddy, a little one just for me.” The child was begging for a pint bottle of Shatto strawberry flavored milk. When Daddy finally caved in, the little girl went dancing of down the isle with her very own I-don’t-have-to-share glass bottle of Shatto Milk.
Missouri farmers are used to drought and flood and crop failures. But after a dozen years of record low milk prices, dairy farmer Leroy Shatto was asking himself, “why am I doing this?” So when Shatto Milk Company doubled it’s herd in the first year of operation and exceeded all marketing projections beyond his dreams, his success was hard even for him to believe.
It takes 13 employees to handle the Holstein herd of 120 dairy cows, manage the processing and bottling plant and distribute the milk to 47 stores within the Kansas City-St. Joseph area. And owner Leroy Shatto does it all. He is as likely to be processing milk or on the bottling line as he is to be driving the delivery truck to Kansas City.
The Clinton County dairyman works seven days a week to make sure he can deliver milk fresh from the cow to the store within 48 hours. All the milk comes from cows born and raised on the Shatto family farm. Customers who love the cold, fresh taste of the glass bottled milk, honk and give him the thumbs up when he’s in the company truck; they call him and write testimonials and send hundreds of letters and emails.
At the dairy in Osborn, visitors can watch from a loft as the milk is processed and packaged in the processing plant. Shatto milk is processed by separating the cream to create whole, 1 percent, 2 percent and skim milk. Then it is pasteurized and homogenized and pumped into clear half-gallon, quart, and pint glass bottles that keep the milk colder than plastic. The dairy sells chocolate and strawberry flavored milk, pints of half and half, cream, orange drink and fruit punch.
The nostalgic glass milk bottles are recycled as often as they are returned. Though there is a $1.50 deposit on the heavy, clear, glass milk bottles, they are so attractive that the bottles don’t always make it back for recycling. The little pint bottles of cream and half-and-half are especially popular with people who remember when fresh milk was delivered in glass bottles.
The retail store is open Monday – Friday 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am to 4pm and Sunday 9 am to 4 pm. The hundred year old family farm hosts school field trips, senior citizens bus tours, Scouts and 4-H groups. Each tour usually takes about an hour and a half and costs four dollars per person. Group tours of the dairy, processing and bottling facility, and country store are available Tuesday through Saturday by appointment. Call (816) 930-3862 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you see Leroy Shatto delivering milk in your grocery store, stop and tell him how much you like his milk because sometimes, he can hardly believe it himself.
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