They milked it for as long as they could.
But ultimately, the high cost of processing milk in the most expensive city in the U. S. to live finally caught up with Elmhurst Dairy, which announced Aug. 2 that it was closing its doors, unable to compete as the last remaining pasteurizing facility in New York City.
The company in New York's Jamaica, Queens, have been a fixture in New York supermarkets and schools for many decades.
“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,” CEO Henry Schwartz said in a statement announcing that 273 employees will lose their jobs.
The company has a 15-acre site where it received 25 to 30 tanker trucks of milk daily and stored in its 12 silos enough milk to feed New Yorkers for a day, the company said. The site also includes in-house packaging, with its own blow molding operations and three material silos to hold resin used in milk jug production.
A spokesman said the company is "discussing the options internally and working with city to secure the most beneficial use for the community and the city."
Elmhurst's demise comes after another Queens-based dairy, Beyer Farms, filed for bankruptcy and closed in late 2012. There were 20 milk-processing plants in the city as recently as 25 years ago. None remains in the city. 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.