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Insights from a Dairy Processor

June 19, 2021

Anytime you enjoy a tall glass of milk, bowl of ice cream, or a slice of cheese, you’re celebrating dairy farmers and processors. As part of National Dairy Month, we chatted with the folks at Umpqua Dairy about their ongoing, delicious part in the dairy industry and what we can all expect out of this Oregon-based business in the years ahead.

A Quick History of Umpqua Dairy

Umpqua Dairy has been turning wholesome Oregon milk into dairy products since 1931. Over the decades, Umpqua Dairy has faced plenty of changes, including a fire that shut down operations for a short time in the 1970s, as well as innovations in packaging and processing that have helped shape the industry in and around the region.   

Throughout its history, Umpqua Dairy has remained a family operation, with current owners, the Shehadey family guiding the way in partnership with an experienced staff of long-term employees. Prior to their leadership, Doug and Steve Feldkamp had driven and navigated the company’s direction for 35 years and their father, Bob Feldkamp, ran the company after taking over for his father, Ormond, who co-founded it just years after the Great Depression. 

During its first 40 years in business, Umpqua Dairy was a Douglas County exclusive. By the late 70s, they expanded into Medford. Then in the 1990s, distribution centers were built in Portland and Klamath Falls to meet the growing demand for its innovative products, delicious ice cream flavors, and wholesome milk. 

Today Umpqua Dairy Ice Cream can be found in 12 western states


It All Starts with Quality Milk from Happy Cows

According to John Harvey, Director of Plant Operation at Umpqua Dairy, one of the most important aspects of any dairy product is healthy cows.

“Our Oregon dairy farmers take great care and planning to maintain their herds to their prime health and happiness,” John explained when asked about the milk Umpqua Dairy uses in its products. “Our local dairy farmers care for their animals. We honestly believe that we have some of the best milk in the world.”

Umpqua Dairy also adheres to and follows strict safety guidelines, which means products are safer now than ever.  

Part of that safety, as well as efficiency, accuracy, and consistency, has come with the evolution of dairy processing equipment and automation. Today, a computer system controls the cheese vat agitators to achieve consistent final product quality. Additionally, the company is able to more accurately blend milk and cream and test products immediately, as well as analyze and test milk in the lab. 


From Dairy Farm to Your Table

Before Umpqua Dairy products make their way to local supermarkets, every pint of ice cream, gallon of milk, or tub of cottage cheese, goes through a series of innovative checkpoints. These include handheld routing systems to streamline the delivery process of finished goods, updates and new processes for the recording of equipment and product runs, as well as metal detectors for food safety.

Those same innovations are used to help produce Umpqua Dairy ice cream, frozen yogurt, whipping cream, half-and-half, buttermilk, sour cream, eggnog, butter, juice and fruit drink, and a full range of fluid milk options.

Safety and innovation are always of the utmost concern for the Oregon-based dairy processor. Sure, everyone loves Umpqua Dairy products, but with forward-thinking leaders at the helm, dedicated employees sticking with tried-and-true recipes, and dairy farmers producing some of the most wholesome and delicious milk anywhere, those products are just going to get more delicious, consistent, and available in even more stores. 

The future of the industry, local dairy farmers, and Umpqua Dairy is bright indeed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where does Umpqua Dairy get their milk?
They get their certified rBST Free milk from independent dairy farms in Southern Oregon and in the Willamette Valley.

Where are Umpqua Dairy products made?
Their products are made at their processing plant in Roseburg, Oregon. The milk received from farmers is separated in the facility and is usually used within 24 hours to manufacture all dairy, culture and ice cream products.

Where are Umpqua Dairy products sold?
Umpqua Dairy products are sold throughout Oregon, Washington, Northern California, Idaho and Nevada.