LYNNFIELD, MASS. -- The story of HP Hood Milk began in 1846 as a delivery service in Charlestown, Mass.  In order to expand into the wholesale milk business, founder Harvey Perley Hood bought a farm in Derry, NH in 1856. His son, Charles Harvey Hood, joined the company in 1880, and HP Hood & Sons was born. 

From the start, Hood established a basic principle that has guided the company’s values today — he realized that, as a milk dealer serving the consuming public, it was his responsibility to protect the health of his consumers by providing products of the highest quality. 

Today, Hood maintains that priority of quality and innovation and it has been the driving force behind many of the company’s major milestones. 

In 1894, Hood hired its first food scientist to prepare modified milk for babies and began to introduce pasteurized milk throughout New England. Around the turn of the century, the first Hood Ice Cream was produced in Hood Creamery retail stores. In the 1940s, the first woman route driver was hired and New England’s beloved Hoodsie Cups were introduced. In 1969, the company introduced Nuform low-fat milk, becoming the most extensive line (milk, ice milk, yogurt, cottage cheese) of low-fat dairy products in New England. Three years later, the company changed its name from HP Hood & Sons to HP Hood Inc. and invented Frogurt, the first frozen yogurt in the United States based on a request for a low-fat frozen dessert from Bloomingdale’s department stores. In 1991, Hood produced its first non-dairy product, Hood Non-Dairy Country Creamer, and soon became the nation’s leading producer of extended-shelf life (UHT) dairy products. 

The commitment to ensuring the consumer receives the best product possible is rooted in company’s DNA — superior quality checks, high-quality processing, working with the best farmers and suppliers. That discipline has been nurtured for generations, and Hood maintains an in-house R&D team in Wilmington, Mass., committed to that success.

The Kaneb family purchased Hood in 1995 becoming only the third owners of the company in its 175-year history. Since that acquisition, Hood has extended its roots from a New England dairy company to become a national food and beverage (dairy and non-dairy) manufacturer with 13 processing plants across the country. 

An eye on sustainability

This year, Hood announced its commitment to a new, long-term sustainability strategy. Guided by an executive steering committee, the strategy builds on Hood’s collaborative culture to optimize its facilities, strengthen responsible sourcing, and reduce its climate impact. Hood believes that delivering sustainable value to its customers and consumers is not just the right to do, it will also foster long-term business innovation and resilience.

“At Hood we have a long, proud legacy of caring about the future,” said Lynne Bohan, group vice president, corporate communications for HP Hood. “From our environmental impact to the safety and wellbeing of our employees and the communities in which we operate we make every effort to ensure we’re contributing to a sustainable future.”

As part of that commitment, Hood recently announced an agreement with Enel Green Power North America to purchase 90 GWh of wind energy each year, making them one of the only dairy companies in the United States to execute such a contract. Through the 12-year virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA), Hood will purchase the electricity delivered to the grid by a 25 MW portion of Enel Green Power’s Azure Sky wind project in Texas. The agreement is HP Hood’s first renewable energy VPPA and will enable the company to advance its ambitions of giving consumers a greener choice in dairy and is a milestone in Hood’s sustainability commitment. 

“This VPPA is an important investment in our future, and a significant step in reducing our climate impact,” said Robbie Lock, sustainability manager. “We believe sustainability strengthens customer relationships and consumer trust, and we are committed to the environmental and social actions to help us achieve that vision.”

Since 2011, Hood has disclosed its annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an important step in offering transparency to its customers about its commitment to environmental sustainability and its GHG efforts and reductions. 

This year, the company will launch a new sustainability strategy to optimize operations, bolster responsible sourcing, and reduce emissions. Hood will also continue to support the US dairy industry’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 through the company’s adoption of the US Dairy Stewardship Commitment.

Social responsibility

At the heart of its success, Hood has kept people at the core of its values. Knowing its employees are its greatest asset, the company continues to invest in their safety, growth, and development, leaning into its core values: People, Quality, Innovation, Collaboration, Community, Results and Integrity.

From the time of the company’s founding, supporting the communities in which it does business has been a priority. Since dairy plays an important role in achieving good health, Hood’s community support efforts today are focused on organizations that assist children and their families in the areas of health and nutrition. That’s been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Hood is proud to have donated more than 1,000,000 servings of dairy products both directly to consumers and through its partnership with Feeding America and other organizations. HP Hood was also part of a coordinated effort to recover raw milk from being disposed while creating a new, temporary food supply for the Vermont Foodbank.

“These unprecedented times have created new challenges that require creative solutions,” Bohan said. “We’re glad that we’re able to help solve a problem while giving back to our local community.”

This story is featured in the June 2021 issue of Dairy Processing.