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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Bottling success

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Volleman’s Family Farm offers a variety of flavored and seasonal milk options in addition to their signature whole and two percent milk. 

From the fields of Holland and Luxembourg, to Gustine, Texas, the Volleman family farm can be traced back over 100 years in the dairy industry. Today, it’s bringing a time-honored tradition back to Aggieland — bottled milk.
In over 160 stores across Texas, including Producer’s Cooperative Association in Bryan, Volleman’s Family Farm has created a new way to buy bottled milk in stores. With a $2 “bottle deposit,” customers can leave with a bottle of milk, bring that bottle back once it has been used and receive their deposit back to continue buying the family’s product.
Seeking better opportunities and growth, Andrew Volleman, Class of 2017, said his parents, Frank and Annette Volleman, made the decision in 1993 to move their family from a small dairy farm in Luxembourg to a larger patch of farmland in central Texas.
“They wanted to give us, as their kids, opportunities to be able to do more than just have one family member come back to the farm, which is normally pretty common in Europe,” Andrew said. “So they decided to come to the land of opportunity and moved to Texas.”
Starting their operation with about 100 cows, Andrew said his parents did a majority of the work themselves, constantly finding better ways to take care of the family’s dairy cows. It wasn’t long before the family was poking around with ideas on how to expand with their newfound growth.
“One of the things that was always in the back of their minds [was] that they wanted to get closer to the consumer,” Andrew said. “They wanted to find ways to offer our products directly to the consumer instead of the traditional method of going through dairy co-ops. So, for the longest time now, that has always been a goal of ours — to just get closer to that consumer. We just didn’t know what it was going to be at that point.”
After the four brothers graduated from the Texas A&M system, Andrew said the siblings used their education to better the family business and amplify it in the way their parents always dreamed of.
“We were kind of going back and forth about how we wanted to build this and how we wanted to make this successful,” Andrew said. “So in December of [2019], we officially launched our concept and said ‘Hey look, we’re going to come and offer our local milk in returnable glass bottles.’”
Andrew said his family’s idea to bring back bottled milk services took off virtually overnight, with the company’s initial post being shared thousands of times on their social media. That is when Andrew knew that the investment his entire family was making would pay off.
“We really wanted to push that message of sustainability that we’ve always been so focused on here at the dairy,” Andrew said. “And it just skyrocketed overnight. The posts were reaching more people than we even remotely knew. I mean like 20- or 30-thousand people. It was awesome. We were reaching such a large amount of people in a short amount of time and we realized then that we needed to move a little faster.”
Starting with roughly 20 stores, Andrew said by the time he got through with his first day of delivering the bottles of milk, nearly every one of them was calling to tell him that all of the milk had sold out hours after delivery.
“That kind of went on and on for several days. I didn’t even make it that full second day [of delivery without] those same stores we delivered to that morning saying they were completely sold out,” Andrew said. “It was incredible. Those first several weeks, we had lines of people waiting to just get the bottles out of the crates as we were delivering them. It was a really neat experience that kind of just took off.”
A whole family affair, marketing director Shelby Volleman, Class of 2017, said although she never saw herself getting involved in the family’s dairy business, her husband Andrew convinced her to move back home with him after graduation, and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I was kind of hesitant at first because I didn’t grow up with a family that had a family-owned business like that,” Shelby said. “I didn’t know what that lifestyle was like. But I’ve loved it ever since, and just getting to be a part of this business and getting to watch it grow, to have a hand in it, is really neat.”
After only a year of their bottled milk being on store shelves, Andrew said the growth his family has seen through Volleman’s Family Farm and its loyal customers has been fast, but completely satisfying to be a part of.
“It’s just been a really crazy thing,” Andrew said. “We’ve grown tremendously. The big thing that the consumers have just fell in love with has been quality. That’s the most important thing for us. We wanted to create a fresh product that tastes like you just drank it straight out of the cow. And I just think consumers fell in love with that. We’ve been told multiple times we have the best chocolate milk in the state of Texas. That uniqueness of the glass bottle is what consumers love — the sustainability of it all.”
Since Aggieland is where they learned how to expand their family’s century old business, Andrew said the move to putting their milk in College Station stores as an Aggie has been an incredible experience.
“We’ve been looking for weeks, maybe even months, to find a way to service that College Station market,” Andrew said. “We knew there were people there wanting milk, and being that this is where we breathed and bled maroon, we’re die-hard Aggies, so this has all just been really awesome.”

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