The Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) is a dairy co-operative headquartered in Tillamook County, Oregon, United States. The association's main facility is the Tillamook Cheese Factory located two miles north of the city of Tillamook on U.S. Route 101.
The Tillamook factory hosts over a million tourists each year. Visitors watch the production of cheese from a viewing gallery over the main production floor.
The 44th largest dairy processor in North America, Tillamook posted $382 million in sales in 2007, the trade magazine Dairy Foods reports. The brand is strongest in the West but sells in all 50 states. It routinely wins awards from the American Cheese Society and other groups.
The co-operative includes 110 dairy farms, mostly within Tillamook County. Products produced by the co-operative include cheese, butter, ice cream, sour cream, and yogurt. Their most famous product is Tillamook cheese, including the famous Tillamook Cheddar.
The Tillamook area was ideal for dairy cattle in the mid-19th century, but transporting the milk and butter was a problem. In 1854, several farmers from the county built a schooner named the Morning Star to transport butter to Portland, Oregon; the schooner is now featured as part of the co-op's logo, and a full-sized replica is on display on the creamery grounds. Peter McIntosh and T. S. Townsend established the county's first cheese factory in 1894. The association was founded by ten independent dairy farmers in 1909. TCCA hired an ad agency and began campaigning in 1917 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland.
Under secretary-manager George R. Lawson (CEO- 1944-1950), the cooperative began producing rindless cheese in 1946 and bottled milk the following year. In 1949, partnering with four independent plants, the Tillamook Cheese Factory north of Tillamook was built. The enlarged facility included a storage plant and traffic department.
Tillamook County Creamery Association recently celebrated 100 years in business.
The Tillamook Cheese Factory, located at 4185 U.S. 101 North in Tillamook, Oregon, is the Tillamook County Creamery's main cheese production facility. The Tillamook Cheese Factory also serves as a Visitor Center and hosts over 1 million tourists each year. Visitors can learn about the cheesemaking process, cheese packaging process, and the ice cream-making process from a viewing gallery over the main production floor. Tours are self-guided and self-paced, and are augmented by video presentations and interactive kiosks. Tours inside the actual cheese processing area of the plant were discontinued in 1967 due to health and safety regulations.
The Tillamook Cheese Factory produces 167,000 pounds of cheese each day and packages one million pounds of cheese each week. The factory warehouse has the capacity to age 50 million pounds of cheese at once.
In 2000, TCCA bought the cheese cooperative in Bandon, Oregon, then closed and demolished its cheese-making facilities in that town a few years later, replacing them with a gravel parking lot. After buying the Bandon Cheese factory and its brand name, Tillamook's lawyers warned several South Coast businesses with "Bandon" in their names that they might need to make a "content change" to avoid confusion with the cheese. This controversy made international news, particularly in 400 year-old Bandon, Ireland, where residents have milked cows for generations before Tillamook turned out its first block of cheese.
The cooperative has since gained more animosity from that community as well as others in its enforcement of the Tillamook Cheese and Bandon Cheese trademarks against local businesses such as Tillamook Country Smoker, a purveyor of jerky and smoked meats for over 30 years. In a 2004 case, a federal judge ruled against the cheese giant, saying that Tillamook County Smoker could register its name as a trademark. The creamery had tried to stop the meat company from using the name Tillamook.
The move that garnered Tillamook the most nationwide attention, though, came in 2005, after a slew of consumer inquiries about dairies' use of a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone designed to boost milk production. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had said milk products derived from cows injected with the hormone were safe, but consumer worries about potential cancer risks persisted. Over objections from some member farmers and from biotechnology giant Monsanto, which manufactured the hormone, the creamery association voted to require all its dairy suppliers to phase out its use. Tillamook was one of the first big national brands to make that increasingly common decision.