Located in the heart of Metro Detroit is one of the last standing dairy facilities in the area – C.F. Burger Creamery. Known for their cream and eggnog at regional retail outlets, they’ve grown their business to service one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, while remaining true to their roots as a family-owned business.
“We are a true creamery in that everything we make has elevated butterfat levels,” Dean Angott said about his family’s business, C.F. Burger Creamery. “We specialize in extended shelf life products. We were one of the early adopters of that technology after beginning to produce cream with a shelf life of 100 days in the 1960s.”
With 58 employees at their sole processing facility in Detroit, C.F. Burger Creamery is the last standing Grade A dairy manufacturer in the city of Detroit.
“A long time ago, when I started in this business, there were over 20 dairies in the city itself,” Angott, who serves as the company’s Chairman and President, said. “When my family first started in the business in 1926, there were nearly 500 small dairies in Detroit and neighboring cities”.
The change in the industry has required them to adapt to consumer preferences and grow their business to remain relevant in the face of industry consolidation. Today, their products can be found in 22 surrounding states under the C.F. Burger Creamery brand, and in McDonald’s milkshakes and lattes and Dairy Queen ice cream mixes. Despite their growth they’ve remained true to their roots as a family-owned business.
“Here we sit in 2023, and despite how different our industry is today, we’re still a family-owned company,” Angott said. “We run the business like a family business should be run and employees appreciate that. The average tenure of an employee here at C.F. Burger is 22 years and we have generational employees in the plant where their dad worked here, or their grandfather worked here.”
The company’s dedicated employees are one of the many reasons Angott credits for the company’s success, along with their supply of high-quality milk.
“We’ve had a continuous supply contract agreement with Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) for more years than I can even remember,” Angott said. “We’re in the business of making exceptional dairy products. I can’t make an exceptional product unless I start with exceptional ingredients and that process begins on MMPA producers’ farms.”
As a long-term partner with MMPA, C.F. Burger Creamery has grown alongside the dairy cooperative through the years, and they’ve worked together to achieve key milestones in each other’s histories.
“This very building that we’re in, we bought from MMPA,” Angott said. “At the time, we had no idea how we could possibly fill this huge building, and now I sit here in 2023 figuring out how I am going to add on to the building. Those are good problems to have.”
The partnership between MMPA and C.F. Burger Creamy is rooted in the companies’ shared mission and values and has resulted in appreciation for each other’s role in the industry.
“MMPA is on a mission to be the best co-op providing the best quality milk. That’s great because we’re on a mission to be the best dairy specialties company offering the very best products,” Angott said. “The high level of quality and the fact that MMPA producers are invested in making sure that they’re hearing what’s going on in the world and ensuring that they’re making a positive impact on the environment and participating in improving animal welfare on their farms is why over the many years, we’ve formed a true partnership with MMPA.”
The partnership has only strengthened over time as C.F. Burger Creamery has continued to grow. The growth is due in part to the success of the company’s line of eggnog products, a well-known staple in their community around the holiday time and beyond.
“40 years ago, when we first got into eggnog, most of the eggnogs on retail shelves were not high quality because supermarket chains just liked to stock them for four weeks during the holidays and sell it at a price point to get out of it and be done with it,” Angott said. “We saw there was an opportunity for a really premium product, so that’s what we set out to build.”
From there, their eggnog recipe took off and after launching four different varieties ranging from caramel flavored to fat-free, the Angott family sought to do even more.
“We thought that if people like eggnog during the holidays, why wouldn’t they like it year-round?” Angott said. “We kept the flagship flavor, the Deluxe Old Fashioned and went to a few supermarket chains and asked if they would consider selling it on a year-round basis. They were willing to give it a try, and it ends up that people who like eggnog during the holidays like it in July too.”
The company’s growth and dedicated consumer base allows C.F. Burger Creamery to maintain a constant production of eggnog year-round. In any given year, they sell over a million quarts of eggnog to consumers in the metro-Detroit area and beyond.
“Traditions are important,” Angott said. “At times it’s tough to be a producer and it’s tough to be a processor, but it’s in our veins and it’s what we do. I’m very proud of it and with high-quality cream and condensed milk provided by MMPA, our customers can taste the difference.”
This article was originally published in the November/December 2023 issue of the Milk Messenger. Subscribe »