The high cost of processing milk has prompted Elmhurst Dairy, the last pasteurising facility in New York City, to close its doors for good.
The company, based in Queens and which had been a fixture in New York supermarkets and schools for decades, had its own blow-moulding facility to manufacture plastic milk bottles and silos to hold resin.
“It is with deep emotion and sadness that I announce Elmhurst Dairy and its family of ownership, management and employees will conclude more than 80 years of milk production at its Queens' processing plant,” Henry Schwartz, the firm's chief executive, said in a statement.
He also announced that 273 employees would lose their jobs.
The company has a 15-acre site where it received 25 to 30 tanker lorries of milk daily and stored in its 12 silos enough milk to feed New Yorkers for a day, the company said.
A spokesman said the company was “discussing the options internally and working with city to secure the most beneficial use for the community and the city”.
As recently as 25 years ago there were 20 milk-processing plants in the city; now none remain.
Much of the city's milk comes from further upstate, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Nationwide the industry has consolidated. Milk buyers tend to have leverage with farmers who must move their perishable product quickly. That fact has given an edge to large buyers, which can both dictate prices to farmers and undercut competitors.
Schwartz said Elmhurst kept its plant in Queens open long after it was economically viable in order to honor the wishes of his father, Max, the company founder.
“The family did so at a very high cost but is unable to continue to do so without ongoing losses,” he said.