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Monroe cheesemaker goes Greek

Published On: Mar 21 2013 07:46:51 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 21 2013 09:45:12 PM CDT
MONROE, Wis. -

Klondike Cheese Company has four generations of family cheesemaking behind its name. Now, those Swiss relatives are branching out into making Greek yogurt.

Adam Buholzer is the Klondike Cheese Company's vice president of production and knows the new plans as well as anyone.

"Our cheese background definitely helps us a lot, but there is a little bit of learning curve for us for the Greek yogurt," Buholzer said.

As Buholzer leads visitors through the sea of shiny silver equipment, he explains a process involving a significant amount of kitchen chemistry. Buholzer even brought in some authentic help for the endeavor.

"We do have a Greek Greek yogurt maker," Buholzer said.

Klondike spent about $12 million on the project, much of that on the high-tech machines that store milk, separate out the fat, transfer the product around the factory, ferment the yogurt and eventually pack it up.

"Just consistency," Buholzer said. "You do the same thing day in and day out to have the same product every day."

Buholzer said Greek yogurt is typically distinguished by its thick consistency, high amounts of protein and tangy flavor. However, Buholzer plans to make Klondike's version of the food a little sweeter than a number of brands.

"Our thought is there's a lot of people that like the Greek yogurt because of the health aspects, the protein, but they don't necessarily like all of that tartness," Buholzer said. "They can have the best of both worlds where it maybe tastes a little more like traditional yogurt but then you still get all of that high protein."

Buholzer said the company is starting with six different flavors, but he plans to customize a number of orders for large-scale food services customers. Buholzer said the production line will be able to turn out containers as small as the consumer-sized 5.3-ounce cup to five-gallon tubs and barrels of Greek yogurt.

Customers will also be able to find the yogurt in some grocery stores, but Buholzer expects a good bit of their sales to come from food services that would need the product in bulk. He added the company will be able to customize labels for customers.

"It's been a long project, so to be finally making yogurt is very exciting," Buholzer said.

Bulholzer said food services sales will start in the next few weeks. Customers can expect the "Odyssey" brand on shelves in June.

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