November 30, 2020 at 8:26 p.m.
The Alliance, a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, awarded 13 grants in September. The Alliance supports farms and processors in its home state as well as in Minnesota, South Dakota and Illinois and Iowa.
Country View Dairy is using the $20,000 award to offset the cost of equipment, formulation and packaging of frozen yogurt for the retail market. The farmstead creamery, owned by Dave and Carolee Rapson, processes milk, sour cream and yogurt, including frozen yogurt mix for the foodservice market. It also operates a farm store located in the front of the creamery.
“This seemed like a good fit for us to move (the product line) down the road,” said Bob Howard, the company’s director of marketing.
Howard said the grant has helped purchase a continuous batch freezer and a large cooler for making deliveries. With assistance from Iowa State University and The Frozen Dessert Center in Madison, Wisconsin, the yogurt recipe has been tweaked, and the creamery is training on the new equipment. Howard hopes to roll out its new retail line by the end of the year.
Previously, Country View used soft-serve machines to produce 5-ounce frozen yogurt servings in what they call a “cow cup” because of its distinctive spotted containers, distributing to some select stores. They also produced some larger sizes of the frozen treat, but the continuous batch freezer will help them ramp up volume and improve product quality.
“This helps with retail and being there will help make us a little more profitable,” Howard said.
Country View, like other creameries serving the foodservice sector, saw significant downturns in business when the pandemic hit last spring. At that time, they applied for awards through the federal government’s Farmers to Families Food Box and were accepted for the first two rounds.
“It was a rough March and April,” Howard said. “Mid-May through August, that really carried us.”
This month, their fresh yogurt is being added to Minneapolis Public Schools’ seven-day food boxes, another effort in response to the pandemic.
“It’s all been a big help,” Howard said. “And it’s nice knowing (our products) were going to those most in need.”