On this week’s episode of Ownership Matters, we’re joined by Roberta McDonald, the Senior Vice President of Brand Strategy at Cabot, a co-operative of farm families that has been around since 1919. Cabot is well-known on the east coast for its sharp cheddar cheese – but did you know it’s also a cooperative? Roberta has a rich knowledge of cooperatives – take a listen!
Episode: Cooperative Spotlight – Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Tune in to this episode of the Ownership Matters podcast, as hosts Paul Bradley and Mike Bullard highlight the stories of people at the heart of the resident-ownership movement.
Brought to you by ROC USA, this organization works with resident owners in manufactured home communities. In this episode, Paul and Mike welcome guest Roberta MacDonald to help introduce ROC members to other types of co-ops. Roberta is the SVP for Brand Strategy at Cabot—a farmer owned dairy cooperative—and has an extensive history of experience in the brand and marketing field.
1:06 Roberta’s background
Find out about Roberta’s extensive background in the marketing field, the awards she has won, and how she brought Cabot to being a national award winning brand. Roberta is a long-time champion of the co-op movement.
2:25 Roberta shares about co-op landscape
With 16 different industry group co-ops, Roberta shares about the diversity of co-ops from producer-owned co-ops, to electric, power, credit unions, and more. She discusses the initial negative views people had concerning co-ops and how these perspectives have transformed over time. Realize the true power that resides in the co-op model and making decisions.
4:30 Cabot Creamery’s beginnings
Starting with butter, the brand officially began in1984, but Cabot was founded in 1919. Roberta chats about Cabot’s commitment, and her honor, to help keep farmers farming.
6:20 The employee experience
Find out more what the employee experience is in working for a coop. Is it noticeable? Roberta says this relationship is “true symbiosis of the highest order”.
7:30 Where can you buy Cabot?
While this is predominantly a Northeastern brand, it has become a national product due to some big retailers.
8:58 What motivates the consumer?
In the Northeast, people relate to their food highly and appreciate the fact that the farmers own the company. Learn more about how the palette preference for cheese changes as you look across US. Cabot has partnered with other co-ops to advertise and get their branding known.
11:27 COVID impacts
Roberta shares about how Cabot’s Care Teams worked to keep COVID out of the facilities and what affects they faced from an industry standpoint. Listen to how this pandemic took away pomp of shopping, but helped Cabot’s sales increase as they had product on the shelves. COVID brought everyone to the production line and a need for workers became evident. Roberta discusses the tight cost restrictions co-ops have, due to being a business with a purpose. She shares about the evolution of business and giving back to community.
14:42 Re-thinking with the younger generation
Do we need to re-think how economy works? Roberta asserts that we need to communicate better and more effectively. She says that Millennials are drawn to the Cabot business as they see dollars representing voting powers, and the importance of supporting what companies stand for.
16:05 Other large co-ops
Find out more about other large co-ops you may have not known about. From Florida Natural, to Blue Diamond, and Nationwide insurance, Roberta shares about how some co-ops are more hidden than others.
17:50 Spotlighting volunteers
Cabot’s rewards program works to spotlight volunteers. While the company seeks to honor farmers and their work, their Department of Gratitude wants to ensure they are honoring the volunteers in their local communities as well to promote this attitude of giving.
20:05 How to register for the volunteer program
20:50 Thanks to Roberta and concluding thoughts
Don’t forget to support co-ops whenever you have the opportunity.
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Visit Cabot Creamery’s website.
Find out more about Roberta MacDonald
Connect with Roberta on LinkedIn
Learn more about ROC USA through our website.
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