George Siemon, who founded Organic Valley and built it into a powerhouse in the organic food and ingredient industry over the last several decades, has abruptly announced his departure from the company.
Siemon started Organic Valley in 1988 as a farm cooperative in southwest Wisconsin, specializing in the then-nascent field of organic products. He became the face of the business and of organic agriculture in general, wearing his hair long and often going barefoot.
Organic Valley became the first organic food company to pass the $1 billion mark in revenue. Its products include milk and other dairy foods, meat, eggs and vegetables, sold both at retail and as ingredients to processors like General Mills. It is still organized as a coop, with more than 2,000 farmer-owners in 32 states and Canada.
Organic Valley posted its first-ever loss in 2017. At the 2018 annual meeting, Siemon said that it might have been a mistake not to lower the price paid to members for organic milk in the wake of an oversupply.
The company will be headed on an interim basis by Bob Kirchoff, who has been chief business officer since 2016.