In just five years, the Dave and Carolee Rapson family has gone from creating their first commercial batch of yogurt having their product served at the Chicago Google Headquarters and throughout O'Hare Airport.
“Sales are up 40 percent [this] year to date. We are now in more than 100 stores in six states, 20 public schools, 11 colleges, four health care institutions and several restaurants,” says Bob Howard, director of marketing and sales. “Also, our distributor in Chicago has helped us break into new markets in Chicago from cafe chains downtown, to Google Headquarters, to parfaits in the book stores throughout O'Hare Airport.”
Country View Dairy been crafting quality yogurt in their on-farm processing plant for five years and they are looking forward to sharing their products at Feast! again this year.
Country View Dairy, located between West Union and Hawkeye, Iowa has been growing. After three years in business, Country View was using about 7,000 pounds of milk for processing yogurt four days a week. This year they are averaging about 15,000 pounds of yogurt production per week with a staff of ten (half of those are family).
During the past year they added a second pasteurizer, enabling them to make two batches of yogurt at once, and they are in the process of adding a second filler machine which will increase production. This past spring they completed an addition onto the plant including a much larger walk-in cooler to accommodate pallets, a larger incubation room, a loading dock, storage space and new office.
The Rapsons have not only been increasing the quantity of their production, their quality remains high as well. “Over the last year we have won the Iowa Venture Award, second place ribbon in the American Cheese Society competition in the flavored, cultured milk category (they won with theirAronia Blackberry Greek yogurt, the only Aronia yogurt in the United States) held in Des Moines this year, and we also swept all the ribbons in the yogurt category at the Iowa State Fair,” said Howard.
The Rapsons milk 180 Holsteins that produce about 95,000 pounds of milk a week and remaining milk is shipped through Wapsie Valley Creamery to be made into bulk cheese. Carolee and Dave's two sons, Jesse and Seth, manage the day to day dairy operation. Dave still feeds cows each morning in addition to overseeing the yogurt business.
The Rapsons family wanted to add value to their milk. It took about two years of research and learning about yogurt making before they officially started County View Yogurt. They toured other farms around the country with on-farm processing facilities, and Carolee initially experimented by making yogurt in her kitchen for her family.
County View yogurt has a very clean label—it simply contains non-Homogenized Grade A pasteurized milk, nonfat dried milk, pure cane sugar, natural flavor and natural color, and includes live and active cultures with probiotics. They use no stabilizers, gelatins or preservatives in their yogurt, and they are not given hormones.
Timing and temperature play key roles as they make the milk into yogurt, which is ready for consumers within 24 hours. It takes a pound of milk to make a pound of yogurt.
Country View Dairy offers a variety of sizes and flavors of their yogurt products, including a Greek line. Their flavors include vanilla, plain, blueberry, black cherry, strawberry, peach and raspberry, and the Greek line features “fruit on the bottom.” They sell their products in a variety of sizes, ranging from four ounces to 20 pound bags. Early in the year Country View Dairy introduced their vanilla flavored Greek yogurt which has been widely used as a parfait base, and this fall they are ready to introduce their new Whole Milk Plain Greek yogurt to retail in a 24 ounce cup. (It is currently available in food service sizes.)
You can learn more about Country View Dairy at Feast! Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will be well spent with more than 100 different food businesses exhibiting in addition to chef demos, workshops, kids’ activities, and a Real Food Media film fest.
Or visit their webpage at http://www.countryviewdairy.com/.