Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

Local Producer Profile: Westby Co-op Creamery

Posted by Bjorn Bergman on Sun, Mar 17, 2019 @ 03:00 PM

We are truly lucky to be located right in the heart of the Driftless region, which has a wealth of local farmers and producers. One of the local producers we are grateful to have right in our neighborhood is Westby Co-op Creamery. They are one of the oldest dairy cooperatives in Wisconsin!

Schaub-family.JPG-profile-photo-WCCThe humble beginnings of this co-op date back to its founding in 1903 in Westby, Wisconsin. A small group of dairy farmers banded together to start a creamery to focus on turning their milk into high quality butter. Westby Co-op Creamery was built on the foundations of hard work, small batches, and quality. They are still founded on those same values 116 years later and now have over 200 farmer-members. Their farmers hail from Western Wisconsin and Southeastern Minnesota.

One unique aspect of the Westby Co-op Creamery is how they have both conventional, as well as organic farmer-members. In 2007, their Board made the move to accept milk from certified-organic dairies. Today, about half the membership is certified organic, and the milk they supply accounts for 70% of the milk going to the Creamery. Most of that milk goes to make organic dairy products for private label brands. In 2017, Westby started its own organic brand which now includes organic cottage cheese, sour cream, and French onion dip. In late 2018, they introduced organic sweet cream butter to that product line.

In the city of Westby, the Westby Co-op Creamery has been a prominent business for decades. Today they have two buildings within the city limits. The first one is in the center of Westby and is the heart of the business. This location receives all the creamery milk and processes it into a variety of delicious dairy products like sour cream, dips, cottage cheese, cheese curds, hard cheese, yogurt, and cream cheese. In fact, this building houses the only cottage cheese plant in Wisconsin. This led the Governor of Wisconsin to naming the city of Westby as the Cottage Cheese Capital of Wisconsin in 2018.

Westby Co-op Creamery’s second building, which was built in 2012, is the location of their distribution center and administration offices on the northwest edge of Westby. This recent addition houses all of their retail-ready product which streamlines distribution and increases efficiency, eliminating the need to store all product in onsite refrigerated semi trucks.

The addition of this building has fueled growth of the Creamery. Over the past 12 years, the Westby Co-op Creamery has more than doubled its milk production. Last year, the farmers produced 165 million pounds. Finished dairy products from their processing plant has more than tripled. Over the past 10 years, they’ve gone from 7 million pounds to over 26 million pounds of finished products.

“I’ve always felt that the Westby enterprise embraces the fabric of the family farm, and it’s a win-win Amundson-family.jpg-profile-photo-WCCsituation for my family when I can market our milk locally to them. My family and I believe the progressive philosophy and advanced manufacturing technology that is used at the Westby Co-op Creamery ensures that our consumers receive quality products,” says Marvin Amundson of Amundson Jerseys (Westby, WI), who is a farmer-owner of Westby Co-op Creamery. “The end result for both the co-op and my family creates a dual support line for the community and the surrounding areas where Westby products are sold.”

Tags: Local, Co-ops