Since I’m now hooked on glass-bottled cream-line milk (my local grocery store just started carrying Blue Marble Family Farm milk – I was so excited that I sent the manager a thank you note), I’ve been wondering if anyone in Wisconsin is making a cream-line yogurt. Guess what? Of course we are.
Pete Kondrup, the marketing genius at Westby Co-op, gave a short presentation about “Collaborative Market Venues” in which he casually mentioned that Westby was working with Organic Choice (a Wisconsin dairy co-op) and Farmers All Natural (an Iowa dairy co-op) to produce a non-homogenized, no-added sugar cup-set yogurt.
Pete describes the Cultural Revolution yogurt as “European-style” using organic milk with a creamy top and marbled body. It comes in several flavors: strawberry, peach, raspberry, vanilla and blueberry – and can currently be purchased at Whole Foods.
Not only is Westby Cooperative pushing the cream-line envelope, Pete told me afterwards that he estimates Westby has introduced at least 25 new products in the last three years. The cooperative has also added 15 employees during that same time – taking this 104-year-old business up to 50 employees.
So let’s recap: what was once a commodity dairy plant is today making dozens of value-added products, adding employees and increasing its contribution to Westby’s rural economy. (The co-op plans to do $25 million in sales this year).
“It’s no longer possible to produce 40-pound blocks of cheese and stay in business,” Pete told the break-out session at today’s conference. “It’s important that we continue to innovate and grow. Our communities are depending on us.”