To stay relevant to a segment of shoppers, Westby now offers cottage cheese with reduced sodium.
Clean label is about communicating the farm and dairy operations story. It starts with the farm and continues to ingredient selection and final processing.
“The bar for the dairy industry has always been high, and thankfully so,” said Pete Kondrup, general manager, Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, Wis. “It is a barrier-to-entry for those that may try to pursue a short-term opportunity or a shortcut to market. For the rest of us, it’s the ante-on-the-table to get into the game and table-stakes for staying there.”
Westby is entering its 115th year of operations. Many of the cooperative’s current members are the fifth-generation of their family farm. Its core principles and philosophies have sustained this business, but it’s the evolution of product to meet consumers’ needs that keeps it relevant.
Westby produces conventional and organic products all under one roof, with most made using artisan batch processing techniques.
The cooperative produces conventional and organic products all under one roof, with most made using artisan batch processing techniques. This is communicated to the consumer.
“Our smaller-run batch production systems provide us with the ability, agility and flexibility to produce numerous product recipes, instead of a few continuous-process recipes,” Mr. Kondrup said. “For example, we know sodium is a concern to some consumers, while at the same time sodium is a natural preservative and flavor ingredient in many cultured dairy foods.”
To stay relevant to a segment of shoppers, the company now offers cottage cheese with reduced sodium. The reduction shortens product shelf life and there are some minor flavor changes, but when the how and the why is explained to consumers, they appreciate the information and the chance to keep cottage cheese in their low-sodium diet.
Arla cream cheese is made with only cream, milk, salt and cheese culture.
“Consumers have a lot of power and influence when it comes to their purchasing decisions, and they are most certainly exercising that power by voting with their dollars,” Mr. Stohrer of Arla Foods said. “We know that 75% of our target consumer is reading ingredient statements and checking to see what’s in the products they’re eating and giving their families. This is very different from just 10 years ago.”
Arla is a Denmark-based dairy cooperative started in the 1880s. It is owned by 12,500 farmers across Europe and a network of partner farmers in the United States. The company’s cream cheese is made with only cream, milk, salt and cheese culture, while other brands have more than a dozen ingredients.
“With our four, we have really struck a chord with today’s shoppers,” Mr. Stroher said.