LA CROSSE (AP) - Organic Valley, the world's largest organic farmer cooperative, said demand for organic butter, cheese and vegetables helped boost sales 8.5 percent last year to nearly $929.5 million.The company provided its sales report Thursday at its annual three-day meeting in La Crosse, where more than 500 of its 1,844 farmer members gathered, the La Crosse Tribune reported Friday.Organic Valley accounts for about 50 percent of the organic milk sales in the United States and is the top-selling organic milk in China, sales vice president Eric Newman said. Organic milk consumption has been growing and now account for 7.5 percent of all milk sales, Newman said. But overall, milk sales are declining as more people turn to almond milk and other plant-based alternatives."That is disappointing, because we want people to drink milk - and we hope they drink organic," Newman said.Organic Valley has seen a 30 percent increase in butter, cheese and produce sales. Newman said that while vegetables remain a small part of the business, they provide great growth opportunity.With that in mind, Organic Valley built a refrigerated warehouse near Hillsboro that is being served by 150 farmers, many of them Amish.CEO George Siemon said the company also is working to increase sales of organic, grass-fed beef.Organic Valley is based in La Farge, where a fire damaged its headquarters last year. One section of the building recently reopened, and the area with the worst damage should be reconstructed by June.
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