Mar 10, 2013

Green County’s Klondike Cheese Co. eyes more success with Greek-style yogurt

Excerpted from Wisconsin State Journal
By Rob Schultz

A big reason Klondike Cheese Co. has found success and earned so much respect for its quality products over the years is the refusal of its owners to play it safe.

The architects of Klondike’s rich history are the Buholzer family, four generations strong that have turned a tiny Swiss-cheesemaking company into a world-class operation making award-winning feta, Muenster, brick and havarti cheeses.

And, starting later this month, it will add Greek-style yogurt to its production line. It’s a product dairy experts believe could turn out to be a major game changer for the dairy industry in Wisconsin.

“There’s a lot of similar chemistry and a lot of similar artistry to cheesemaking that goes into this product. It could be the future for the state,” said John Umhoefer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. “There are a lot of people who are watching this very closely.”

The Buholzers, led by brothers Ron, Steve and Dave, are following a path similar to the one Hamdi Ulukaya took eight years ago when the New York cheesemaker started Chobani, which is credited with starting a Greek yogurt surge in the United States.

Another popular Greek yogurt brand, Fage, also has its main production facility in New York, which, like Wisconsin, is a strong dairy state.

The success of those two brands help explain why national retail sales of Greek yogurt jumped to $821 million in the 12 months ending in October 2011, according to a New York Times report.

Greek yogurt represents 28 percent of U.S. yogurt production, a 12 percent increase from 2010 and a 25 percent increase from 2009, according to a Wall Street Journal report last year. The category is expected to grow 40 percent this year and 120 percent over the next five years.

Read the full article.