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  • Logistically nimble Schreiber Foods honored as U.S. Dairy Exporter of the Year

    By USDEC October 21, 2021
    Schreiber has made agile pivots during the global pandemic and ports crisis to soar past all-time company highs for export volume. 
    Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dairy Foods magazine. It is republished here with permission.
    The ability to nimbly adapt under the intense pressure of a global pandemic has made Schreiber Foods the Tom Camerlo Exporter of the Year.


    Members of the Schreiber Foods exports team celebrate Schreiber being named U.S. Dairy Exporter of the Year. From left, Alfiya Thomas, Liz LeCaptain, Elias Rivera, Jacob Bauman, Jason Stephens and Eddie Noriega.

    Schreiber was honored Tuesday at the U.S. Dairy Export Council’s Fall Annual Membership Meeting in Chicago. The award is given annually by Dairy Foods magazine and sponsored by USDEC in honor of Camerlo, a former USDEC chairman with a passionate vision to expand exports.

    “We are super excited to have been chosen as the Exporter of the Year,” said Schreiber Foods President and CEO Ron Dunford in a statement. “This really does mean a lot to our Schreiber team and validates the hard work that they have put in during an extremely challenging year.”

    The employee-owned dairy company headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has made logistical and other changes to serve its global customers during the COVID-19 crisis, and it has paid off.


    This video (click arrow) explains why Schreiber is the Exporter of the Year.

    In 2020, the company exported to more than 55 countries, achieving double-digit percentage increases in export volume. Schreiber is on track to exceed those totals this year, making it the best year for exports in the company’s 76-year history.

    “The pandemic has challenged many of our member companies to make pivots,” said U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Krysta Harden. “Schreiber stood out by adding new ports, carriers and routes to what was already one of the industry’s most advanced distribution networks.” 

    A global dairy company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin 

    Schreiber has more than 9,000 employees in 40 locations on five continents. According to Forbes magazine, Schreiber is the 81st largest private employer in the United States, with total annual sales (domestic and exports) exceeding $5 billion.

    Northwestern Mutual Life famously dubbed itself “the quiet company” of the insurance industry. Schreiber might be the biggest quiet company in the U.S. dairy industry. A Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper profile of Schreiber ran with a headline that said, “You’ve probably never heard of Schreiber Foods, but you’ve probably eaten its products.”

    Schreiber is a customer-brand company that makes cream cheese, natural cheese, process cheese, shelf-stable beverages and yogurt for some of the world’s leading retailers, restaurants, distributors and food manufacturers.

    Schreiber photo5 (2)-1

    Forbes magazine lists Schreiber as the 81st largest private employer in the U.S., with total annual sales (domestic and exports) exceeding $5 billion.

    Schreiber is quiet because it wants to make its customers shine and put them in the spotlight.

    Schreiber’s consumer insights, risk management and culinary teams help customers drive their competitive edge, keep costs predictable and stable, and drive menu innovation. Schreiber’s creative services team helps customers create impactful marketing tools and artwork that resonates with consumers around the globe.

    Schreiber also has “boots on the ground” in other countries. It has a local sales presence in Latin America and most recently added Southeast Asia. Schreiber offers its customers a diverse team consisting of multilingual professionals with backgrounds in various functions like operations, supply chain and marketing. 

    Criteria for Exporter of the Year 

    The Exporter of the Year must be a U.S. dairy supplier that:

    • Exemplifies leadership in advancing U.S. dairy exports.
    • Demonstrates a commitment to export market development.
    • Makes exports an integral part of its overall growth strategy.

    Dairy Foods magazine makes the decision, in consultation with USDEC. Applications come from exporting companies asking for consideration or by observers who think the company is worthy of the honor. 

    Trophy (2)

    The Tom Camerlo Exporter of the Year award is given annually by Dairy Foods magazine and sponsored by USDEC in honor of Camerlo, a former USDEC chairman with a passionate vision to expand exports.

    The award may mean the most to Schreiber’s dedicated export division, which includes sales, customer service, export compliance, global transportation, and vast supply chain support.

    “There is a history behind this award that more senior, legacy-focused members of the dairy industry hold in high regard,” said Eddie Noriega, an international sales manager whose territory includes Japan. 

    Letting customers take the credit 

    Schreiber creates private-label items with the same flavors, consistent size and convenience of well-known international brands. Need cream cheese that will satisfy a particular global market? Schreiber has 30 flavors to choose from. It will test the cream cheese for safety and taste, package it, ship it and even help you market it in another language.

    It’s all about keeping the focus on the customer.

    “Our importers want to see where they can make money,” says Mike Lehmann, Schreiber’s international business manager. “That’s what they are in business for. If you show them how to do that, things become simpler. We try to provide the best value for our products and we let them know that.” 

    Large distribution network pays off during pandemic

    COVID-19 has created tough circumstances for all U.S. dairy exporters, and the beat goes on with massive logjams at West Coast ports. The pandemic has stretched and sometimes broken supply chains while making timely delivery to other countries an arduous adventure and sometimes a nightmare.

    “We have seen and continue to experience volatile freight lanes, higher freight costs, and changing market conditions,” said Dunford.

    Schreiber photo1

    Schreiber Foods President and CEO Ron Dunford said that Schreiber being named Exporter of the Year "validates the hard work" of his employees "during an extremely challenging year.”

    As manager of global logistics, Val Holtrop calls on a network of contacts built up over decades, going back to the 1990s when she worked for a freight-forwarding company.

    She and her team stay close to the industry, frequently communicate with customers, manage skyrocketing costs while exploring new ports, carriers, and routes.

    “We’re a step ahead of some,” said Holtrop. “We make the necessary switches and we’re ready to do business.”

    This includes business to faraway global growth markets like Southeast Asia.


    Schreiber has 9,000 employees in 40 locations on five continents.

    Domestically, Schreiber moves more than 2 billion pounds of refrigerated products to U.S. retail, foodservice and contract manufacturing companies every year. 

    A customer-brand dairy company 

    Schreiber’s stated vision is “to be the best customer-brand dairy company in the world,” an ambitious aspiration.

    Alfiya Thomas, managing director of export sales, puts it this way: “Our customers rely on us to deliver our food to them in full and on time, every time.”

    An ongoing global pandemic is helping Schreiber demonstrate its seriousness and reap the rewards.

    Schreiber40 (2)

    Schreiber Foods’ Senior Vice President and General Manager Europe and Asia, Jason Stephens (center), displays the Tom Camerlo Exporter of the Year trophy. He is flanked by (left to right) USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden, USDEC Chair Larry Hancock, Schreiber Managing Director of Export Sales Alfiya Thomas and USDEC Chief Operating Officer Martha Scott Poindexter.

    “Volatility can often scare exporters and customers,” said Dunford. “I am proud of our team and the way they have proactively dealt with these challenges. We are committed to growing our business around the world through exports. We appreciate USDEC and the support they provide us around the globe. There is still so much potential out there and we are excited to be part of it!”

    Past winners

    Schreiber is the first two-time winner of the Tom Camerlo Exporter of the Year award, previously earning the honor in 2008.

    To date, 15 dairy processors have been named Exporter of the Year, including:

    • Proliant Dairy Ingredients (2020)
    • BelGioioso Cheese Inc. (2019)
    • Milk Specialties Global (2018)
    • Sartori (2017)
    • Swiss Valley Farms (2016)
    • California Dairies Inc. (2015)
    • Dairy Farmers of America (2014)
    • Agri-Mark (2013)
    • Glanbia (2012)
    • Leprino Foods  (2011)
    • United Dairymen of Arizona (2010)
    • Hilmar Cheese (2009)
    • Schreiber Foods (2008)
    • Darigold (2007)
    • Davisco Foods (2006)
    Go here to read articles on past winners and learn more about the award.

    Mark O’Keefe is vice president of editorial services at the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

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    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post.  

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