Back in the early 1950’s Ralph Shearer, a long time dairyman from Monticello, KY began Southern Belle Dairy Company with a dream of becoming Kentucky’s premier dairy. Southern Belle Dairy continues to grow and is well known for quality products and customer service.
Southern Belle Dairy is engaged primarily in the production and distribution of dairy products, and has seen its service sector grow from the immediate Somerset area to encompass the eastern two-thirds of Kentucky and Tennessee and include parts of Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
In October 2006, Southern Belle Dairy became a part of the Prairie Farms family. Prairie Farms began in 1932 when cooperative dairy farms pooled their strength. Now over 800 farms strong, Prairie Farms is recognized throughout the Midwest for its array of superior dairy products and exceptional service. Prairie Farms has always kept a few bedrock principles in mind; quality, reliability, and faithfulness to its customers and consumers. Prairie Farms manufacturers and markets a full line of dairy food products out of its own 17 plants, along with 13 others through subsidiary companies and joint ventures throughout the Midwest.
Production at Southern Belle Dairy has grown from under 150 gallons per day to a current volume of about 80,000 gallons per day or 21 million gallons annually.
The total product line includes over 500 sizes and packages of dairy and non-dairy food items. Fluid milk (including buttermilk), orange juice and fruit flavored drinks are the major production categories. First-line customers include restaurants, groceries, food service distributors, warehouses, schools, hospitals, and vending companies.
Products distributed by Southern Belle, but co-packed by others include ice cream and frozen desserts, butter, various cream products (such as whipping cream, sour cream, coffee cream), yogurt, cottage cheese, and a variety of hard cheeses.
Employment in Kentucky, Tennessee & North Carolina totals about 240 currently. Distributors, contract haulers and various others with exclusive agreements bring the Southern Belle Dairy “family” to more than 300. Most of our raw milk is purchased through a locally-based farmers’ group, Southeastern Graded Milk Producers Association (SEGMPA). SEGMPA’s members, about 120 dairy farm families, are guaranteed a market for their milk by Southern Belle Dairy under a long-standing agreement.
Facilities in Somerset, with approximately 80,000 square feet on both sides of the street, include processing and filling, cold storage, dry warehouse, offices, garage, mechanical room, waste water treatment, blow mold room and storage tanks for a variety of materials (including juice concentrate, milk, cream, plastic resin, liquid sugar, fuels and chemicals).