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The dairy farm launched a new home grocery delivery service last week to deliver milk to your front porch.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Alpenrose milkman John Keller stacks boxes of milk for home delivery to customers.

In the early morning hours, a navy blue and white truck with six cows painted on the side might be driving around your neighborhood.

Is it a new Amazon truck?

Did the U.S. Postal Service get new wheels?

Not so fast.

Forty years ago, Alpenrose Dairy in Portland had a milkman deliver fresh milk to its customers' front porch every morning. The dairy company is bringing that nostalgia back, with new milkmen and milkwomen bringing milk — along with other items — to people's homes through a new weekly home grocery delivery service.

"It's been going great," said Alpenrose vice president and general manager Josh Reynolds. "I'm optimistic because the consumer response is terrific, (including) our social media. … It's exciting to fulfill that nostalgia and see people post things on social media about growing up with the service 40 years ago and now thrilled to have it for their family. That's a neat feeling."

Alpenrose was purchased by Washington-based Smith Brothers Farms last fall.

Reynolds noted Smith Brothers Farms is one of the few dairies that still has a thriving home delivery business, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Alpenroses Josh Reynolds talks about the delivery boxes that customers keep at their houses. The box is then put out onto the porch for the delivery driver to deposit their order.

"When COVID came around, the consumer need for delivered groceries exploded nationally," explained Reynolds. "Then our plans to launch home delivery, which were longer term, got accelerated. So, we turned the ship and asked, 'How quickly can we be in market?' And then we started on August 5."

The dairy farm went on to buy 10 trucks and hire 15 new employees to launch the service. This included new warehouse and delivery members.

Reynolds is grateful the company could provide new positions for people during economic uncertainty.

"As a company, I feel really fortunate to be in the business of delivering something that's considered an essential industry or business," he said. "The demand for grocery, or milk at the grocery level, skyrocketed in March, so it feels really great to be making something people truly needed this time, and then to be able to find a way to add additional service that meets another need or a desire to have products come right to your home."

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Alpenrose milkman John Keller makes a log of his trucks inventory on the delivery truck.

As for partnering up with local restaurants, that's a possibility, Reynolds said. The restaurants would have to have "something that's in a package form" to be considered, which has been difficult for many restaurants once the COVID-19 crisis started back in March.

Customers should also expect regular milk cartons to show up at their door if they order dairy products as part of the service.

Unfortunately, said Reynolds, the nostalgia won't extend to the look of the product.

"The carton is fully recyclable," Reynolds said. "There's a notion that glass bottles can be reused and recycled, which is true, but there's actually a lot of energy that's consumed to do that. As an operator, I can see all of the reasons why glass containers are so cool, but they're difficult to deal with."

Whether it be for need or for want, Reynolds hopes people will step up to buy from local businesses at a time when many are struggling.

"It's the relationship we have with the delivery team, the milkmen and milkwomen, that really sets up apart," he said. "Instacart and Amazon is kind of nameless faces. Here, it's going to be Haley or Mike or Terry who is delivering your product on that route and is happy to see you if you bump into them on the porch in the morning."

For more information, visit alpenrose.com.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A delivery truck pulls around the Alpenrose parking lot at the end of the day.


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