Westby Cooperative Creamery has been producing dairy products since 1903. There are approximately 145 farmer-owners who ship their milk to the plant from the creamery.
General Manager Pet Kondrup said organic farmers throughout Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota provide milk for organic products made by the creamery, and conventional farmers within 25 miles of Westby provide milk. for conventional products. He said the first organic patron came on board in 2005.
The creamery makes cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese curds, sour creams, dips and butter. The creamery also manufactures food service and ingredients and has private label capabilities.
Kondrup said the creamery produces conventional and organic products every day and they are separated in the factory. “There is a special process to keep things separate.”
In 2021, Kondrup said, the creamery produced 26.5 million pounds of product and expects to produce 27.6 million pounds this year. “We are on the right track.”
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The newest product the creamery offers consumers is sour cream in a squeeze bag. Emily Bialkowski, sales and marketing manager, said it was a “huge investment” for the co-op. She said a room in the factory had been refurbished for the line.
“He was well received,” Bialkowski said. “The consumer appreciates the convenience of the packaging. We are excited to be innovators in the industry. You do not dirty the utensils; it’s convenient — you don’t have a large open container where bacteria can grow. There is a cap to keep it fresh.
Kondrup said the co-op is “always working on something new.”
“We do a lot of things in bulk,” he said. “It’s not glamorous but it pays the bills.” He added that private label manufacturing is a big part of the cooperative’s business. “We are one of the largest organic cottage cheese makers in the country.”
Bialkowski said people who want to find stores with Westby Cooperative Creamery products can go to westbycreamery.com, click on the store locator and enter its postal code to find the nearest store. Consumers also have the option of purchasing products online and having them shipped.
Westby Cooperative Creamery products can also be purchased at the Westby Cheese Store, located at 206 S. Main St. The store moved to the new location in August 2019 and a grand reopening took place in October of that year. The retail store was previously located at 401 S. Main St. in the same building as the Creamery Plant.
Kondrup said the previous retail store had limited space and there were a lot of steps for customers to climb. “That was always a concern,” he said of the marches. This former retail space now houses the dairy laboratory.
He said the retail store move gave the creamery better opportunities to sell online and more space to pack those orders. He said the creamery had leased the space for other uses and now owns the building.
Kondrup said that in addition to selling the creamery’s products, the retail store sells items such as ice cream cones, baked goods from Hansen’s Country Bakery, wines from the region, cheese from other manufacturers and coffee. “We were able to expand (the products we offered).”
The creamery has its general offices and distribution center on the north side of Westby at 615 N. Main St.
Bialkowski said she invites anyone interested in learning more about the creamery to check it out on social media. In addition to the news, there are insights into farm life provided by the co-op’s Farm Ambassador, a farmer-owner who started sharing stories and photos in December 2021.
“(The Farm Ambassador) provides connection — a way for people to feel connected to the food they eat,” Bialkowski said.
Angela Cina can be reached at [email protected]