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Producing Excellence

Burli Hopkins

Lewes, DE

Hopkins Farm Creamery

Type of Operation: Dairy and creamery

Size of Operation: 550 milkers

In Business: 2008

Farm Credit Partner: MidAtlantic Farm Credit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1983

Follow Hopkins Farm Creamery on Twitter: @HpknsFrmCrmry and Like Them on FaceBook

An increasing number of dairies are adding creameries to their operations to provide a value-added product that garners a better profit. Few have achieved such great success, so quickly, as Burli Hopkins and his family, and they’ve done it in part by capitalizing on social media.

Burli is a fourth generation dairyman managing the largest dairy farm in Delaware, which milks 550 head and farms 1,000 acres. In 2008, Burli’s father, a MidAtlantic Farm Credit director since 1988, suggested opening an on-farm ice cream parlor. Burli did the research, including going to ice cream school, and the family opened Hopkins Farm Creamery in what had been Burli’s grandfather’s old milk house.

The Creamery has fast gained an enviable reputation for serving up a mouth-watering selection of some two dozen flavors of the area’s freshest homemade ice cream and sherbet. It’s all so good, in fact, the Creamery garnered a Delaware Today magazine “Best of Delaware” award in 2012.

Aside from great tasting ice cream and countless hours spent tweaking flavors and making product, there’s also another big reason for the Creamery’s success – a very forward, consumer-friendly approach to reaching existing and new customers. The Hopkins use a responsive blend of high-tech social, electronic and print media. “Our first year we put close to $20,000 into advertising including radio, print ads, and coupon books and I wasn’t satisfied,” Burli says. “So we ended up taking that advertising budget and putting it into our website in early 2010 and doing it for significantly less.” The website includes photos, information, special promotions, and other interactive features that make it easy for users to print coupons and sign up for special offers.

There are also those all-important links to social media like Twitter and Facebook. “We’re learning how important these platforms are in helping us reach the younger generation who always seem to be on their phones, iPads or the Internet,” explains Allison, Burli’s wife who manages the Creamery.

The operation has been so successful, that Burli says, “We’re already maxed out in terms of freezer space and the number of flavors we can offer and sell at any one time.” In order to expand the operation, plans are to purchase a mobile unit to take the ice cream to special events. It will include its own production facility and indoor seating. By capitalizing on their established social media outlets, the Hopkins’ expansion will likely enjoy the same level of success.

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