“Milk does a body good” is an advertising slogan most people are familiar with. It’s fitting because June has been National Dairy Month since 1937, which coincidentally is the same year Jilbert Dairy was established.
We spent some time today at the Marquette mainstay as they had yet another reason to celebrate.
John Jilbert celebrated his 70th birthday today after spending decades in the business. At just 10 years old, he earned his very first pay check on his parent’s dairy farm washing milk jugs. With absolutely no plans to retire, Jilbert says the changes that he has seen and the impact that the U.P. based dairy has had on the economy is something to be proud of and cherish.
“There was a time when there was just whole milk period.Then then there was 2% and pretty soon there was 1% and skim, now skim is probably one of the biggest sellers. Our impact on the farming community is in excess of 12 million dollars a year. I don’t know if there are any other entities that can say that they do that much as far as processing it and selling it in the same market,” says John Jilbert, of Jilbert Dairy.
Jilbert Dairy only works with farmers in the U.P., and currently supports 60 local farms. Jilbert says although the Marquette plant and store only has about 70 employees, he counts the network of farms’ employees as part of their extended family, as well. John says that when Dean Foods bought the dairy eight years ago, it allowed them to be an even stronger business for the entire U.P.
“We were bottling 50,000 pounds a week, that’s how we measure production in pounds. We are doing over a million a week now,” continued Jilbert.
Because the milk is delivered from local farms, the processing time for Jilbert milk is between 24 and 36 hours. At times, milk is processed and out the door the very same day, so John is certain that the milk you get is the freshest around.
Jilbert Dairy has daily tours, just look for Jilly the giant cow off Washington & Meeske Street or give Georgette a call. If you stop in for a tour, you can also pick up some freshly bottled milk and ice cream.