Land O'Lakes

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This article is about the American agricultural cooperative. For other uses, see Land O'Lakes (disambiguation).
Land O'Lakes
Agricultural cooperative
Industry Food and Agriculture
Founded July 8, 1921; 93 years ago (1921-07-08)
Headquarters Arden Hills, Minnesota, Minnesota, U.S.
Key people
Christopher Policinski, President & CEO
Products Dairy Foods, Animal Nutrition, Crop Inputs
Revenue $14.24 billion (2013)
Total assets $6.75 billion (2013)
Members 4,535 Farmer-Owners (2013)
Number of employees

Land O'Lakes, Inc. is a member-owned agricultural cooperative based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills, Minnesota, focusing on the dairy industry. The co-op states that it has about 3,600 direct producer-members, 1,000 member-cooperatives, and about 10,000 employees who process and distribute products for about 300,000 agricultural producers;[1] handling 12 billion pounds of milk annually.[2] It is ranked third on the National Cooperative Bank Co-op 100 list of mutuals and cooperatives.[3] The co-op is one of the largest producers of butter and cheese in the United States.


Processing plant in Kiel, Wisconsin.

Land O'Lakes was founded on July 8, 1921 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, by representatives from 320 co-op creameries as the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association. This organization aimed to improve marketing and quality of butter, and thus increase the profitability of dairying.

The Association developed and implemented the systematic inspection, grading and certification of butter from member creameries, resulting in greater uniformity of product. The improved quality and uniformity, and the reliability of its grading system, were touted in advertising materials. In 1924, the uniformly graded sweet cream butter was given the name "Land O'Lakes" after a contest, and the certificate forms used by the Association included the "Land O Lakes" marketing name (Minnesota's state nickname is "Land of 10,000 Lakes").

The name became so popular that the organization's public identity was often confused with its product name; thus, in 1926, the organization itself adopted the name "Land O'Lakes Creameries, Inc." and became synonymous with its product.

The co-op was often accused of unfair competition and false advertising in its early years,[citation needed] and compelled to defend its inspection and certification processes. Eventually, however, the sweet butter marketing strategy drove competitors either to match the quality of butter produced under the Land O'Lakes name or see their sales decline.[citation needed] Many competitors in the dairy products business copied the Land O'Lakes approach, and the certification of quality became a proven marketing technique in other product lines as well. Its butter has won the ChefsBest Award for best taste.

Recent history[edit]

The Land O'Lakes co-op has grown through numerous acquisitions, and now has a large business in farm supply in addition to dairy. In 2001, Land O'Lakes acquired Purina Mills, an animal feed business formerly owned by Ralston Purina.[4]

Land O'Lakes was ordered by a federal court to pay $3 million in 2002 for patent infringement to William Pordy, a doctor who is the inventor of a type of dairy creamer.[5] However, the ruling was overturned on appeal.[6]

Land O'Lakes took an ownership stake in egg producer MoArk in 1999; it took full ownership of the company in 2006.[7][8]

In August 2012, Land O'Lakes purchased refrigerated desserts manufacturer Kozy Shack Enterprises for an undisclosed sum.[9][10]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The headquarters is in Arden Hills, Minnesota in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.[11] In addition there is a corporate office in Shoreview, Minnesota in the MSP area.[12]


The core businesses of the co-op are: Dairy Foods, Animal Feed, Seed/Crop Protection Products, Business Development Services and Layers/Eggs.[13]

Dairy foods[edit]

  • Land O Lakes (the apostrophe is purposely absent in product branding)
  • Alpine Lace
  • Land O' Lakes Food Service
  • Kozy Shack

Animal feed[edit]

Seed/crop protection[edit]

  • WinField™

Northwest Food Products Transportation, L.L.C.[edit]

A wholly owned subsidiary of Land O' Lakes based in Hudson, Wisconsin is the transportation arm responsible for the transportation of milk and finished dairy products. The firm manages its own private fleet of nearly 200 tanker trucks, a contract fleet of an additional 600 trucks, and the Land O’Lakes private fleet of nearly 1,700 trucks.[14]

Butter packaging[edit]

The recursive image seen in the Land O'Lakes butter packaging is an example of the Droste effect.

The Land O'Lakes Indian maiden holding the butter box was painted in 1928 by Brown & Bigelow illustrator Arthur C. Hanson, who also painted the original Old Style Lager logo.[citation needed] His original art hangs in the lobby of the Arden Hills office and depicts the maiden in a pastoral scene with lakes, pines, flowers and grazing cows in the background. According to Land O'Lakes, the original Indian maiden was "simplified and modernized" in 1939 by Jess Betlach and has undergone many minor modifications since as the enduring logo of the co-op. Red Lake Ojibwe artist Patrick DesJarlait updated the maiden's image in the 1950s.[15] The package image is an example of the infinite-loop motif or Droste effect, in which the image is repeated, in theory infinitely, within itself.

Allegations of animal mistreatment by supplier[edit]

In September 2009, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released an undercover video allegedly depicting animal abuse of dairy cows at a Pennsylvania supplier for Land O’Lakes, Inc. The video showed unclean conditions in the barn and milking parlor and cows with infections and illness.[16] The supplier’s employee was found not guilty of animal cruelty charges resulting from this incident [17] and an investigation by veterinarians hired by Land O’Lakes revealed no mistreatment of animals, but the veterinarians suggested that bedding, hygiene, ventilation and animal disposal practices be improved.[18] Land O'Lakes states that it is supportive of the dairy industry’s National Dairy F.A.R.M.: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) animal care standards.[19]


As of August 2012, WhiteWave Foods (a former subsidiary of Dean Foods) licenses the Land O'Lakes brand, selling creamers and fluid dairy products under the name.[20][21]


  1. ^ Land O' Lakes Annual report
  2. ^ "Welcome to Land O'Lakes, Inc.". Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "2010 NCB Co-op 100" (pdf). National Cooperative Bank. 
  5. ^ "Land O' Lakes Ordered to Pay Inventor". The New York Times. 3 January 2002. 
  6. ^ "Appeal". Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Markels, Alex (1 September 2002). "A Marketing Cry: Don't Fence Them In". The New York Times (Denver). Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  8. ^ Winn, Mari (31 January 2006). "Land 'O Lakes now owns 100% of MoArk". Joplin Independent. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Land O’Lakes Closes Kozy Shack Acquisition" (Press release). Land O'Lakes. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Stych, Ed (18 July 2012). "Land O'Lakes buys dessert maker Kozy Shack". Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Contact". Land O'Lakes. Retrieved on March 20, 2014. "Land O'Lakes, Inc. 4001 Lexington Ave. N Arden Hills, MN 55126-2998" - Directions (Archive)
  12. ^ "Shoreview Office" (Archive) "Land O’Lakes, Inc. Shoreview Office 1080 County Road F West Shoreview, MN 55126 "
  13. ^ "Businesses". Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Northwest Food Products Transportation at Land O'Lakes
  15. ^ Anthes, Bill. "Native Moderns: American Indian Painting, 1940–1960". Durham: Duke University Press, 2006: 99.
  16. ^ "PETA: Cow Abuse at Land O' Lake Supplier". September 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  17. ^ "Pennsylvania Magistrate Judge ruling". March 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  18. ^ "Land O'Lakes Investigation of Dairy Farm Concluded". October 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  19. ^ "Land O'Lakes Member Cleared of Animal Cruelty Claims". March 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  20. ^ Dean Foods, Land O'Lakes expand strategic alliance. Eurofood. 15 Aug. 2002.
  21. ^ "Dean Foods announces filing of IPO registration statement for The WhiteWaves Food Company" (Press release). Dean Foods. 7 August 2012. 


  • Land O'Lakes Corporate Website.
  • Kenneth D. Ruble. Men to Remember: How 100,000 Neighbors Made History. (Lakeside Press, 1947), a company-sponsored history of the early years of Land O' Lakes (1921–1945). See especially pp. 163–167 and 181-184, concerning the evolution of the name of the product into the company name.

External links[edit]