This is the last week St. Thomas Dairies will offer milk for sale in island stores. In a surprise move, the company announced late Wednesday that it is ceasing the production and distribution of milk in half and full gallons as of Sunday.
It will continue to manufacture milk and juices for schools and “other government agencies,” according to a company statement. It will also continue to offer ice cream and some fruit juices for general distribution.
According to Fred Hintz, president of Trans-Caribbean Dairy Corp., which does business as St. Thomas Dairies, “This has been a painful decision but we are finally faced with circumstances that make the decision impossible to delay any further.”
He blames “ever increasing electricity costs” as the primary reason for the decision and also cites as factors competition from imported milk and increases in the cost of raw materials. The partial company shutdown is “pending improvement in its financial situation,” Hintz said.
No one was immediately available Wednesday evening to give details on whether or how the action may affect employment, and whether its popular ice cream stand and dairy convenience center near Magens Bay will continue to operate. It was also unclear what portion of local milk sales are generally attributed to St. Thomas Dairies.
The company “has existed since 1963 and remains the only dairy processing plant in the Virgin Islands,” the statement said.
Hintz thanked the dairy’s loyal customers and apologized for inconveniences this might cause. “We look forward to continuing to provide our community with ice cream, school milk and juice products with the same high standard of quality, safety and service that Virgin Islanders and island visitors have grown to love,” he said.