Private-label, or store-brand, dairy products rated with one cow are sold by grocers or distributors who have the obvious desire of wanting to grow their presence in the organic marketplace. Unfortunately, there is an inherent limitation in private-label organic products: organic consumers tend to want to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced, and private-label products are anonymous by their nature. As a case in point, although over 80% of the name-brand organic dairy marketers responded to our survey and are rated in this report, not one of the private-label marketers was willing to tell consumers, openly, where its organic milk was purchased.

Even though none of the one cow–rated brands responded to our survey request, we were able to determine that these brands were, at the time of our research, buying some or all of their organic milk from factory-farm sources. We conducted our research in this area through interviews with a number of industry sources and through federally maintained records

Many of these grocery chains have very little past experience in marketing organic food. Making organics more convenient and affordable to consumers is a laudable goal. We operate on the assumption that many of these marketing entities were unaware of the five-year-long controversy concerning factory farms producing "organic" milk, and that they entered into contractual agreements in good faith. Some of the inaccurate and misleading claims or images made in their labeling are likely just rhetoric that the factory-farm suppliers of milk passed on to them.

We hope that these organizations will make immediate plans to switch milk suppliers. Staff at The Cornucopia Institute will be happy to help them connect with potential family-farm producers and assist them in crafting a message to their customers. It would be unreasonable to expect that they could instantly change suppliers in a very tight supply market. But announcing a plan to phase out milk from ethically questionable sources would be an excellent start.

So the bottom line to private-label organic products, whether a dairy item or any other commodity, is "buyer beware." We encourage consumers to be vigilant and contact stores to confirm who is supplying their private-label milk, or to just pay an extra quarter or two for name-brand milk from farmers and brands that are willing to be open with them and who share their values.