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Success Story: Yodelay Yogurt

Markus Candinas, owner of Candinas Chocolatier, wanted to create a new, artisan yogurt reminiscent of the one he had enjoyed as a child in Switzerland. Candinas developed his business plan for a Swiss-style brand, Yodelay Yogurt. Although Swiss-style yogurt does not have a legal definition, Candinas describes it as a lighter, creamier yogurt with a slightly tart flavor. “I wanted to create something different and I was deeply influenced by the European style,” said Candinas.

In an effort to create this unique, but traditional, experience for consumers, Candinas decided to develop a Swiss-style yogurt that mimics what's found in Switzerland. To help develop the yogurt, he was introduced to Center for Dairy Research Dairy, Ingredients, Cultured Products and Beverages Coordinator KJ Burrington, who was able to help him realize his dream of creating an authentic Swiss-style yogurt.

“Candinas came to CDR with a recipe in mind, but he needed a place to create his yogurt on a larger scale,” Burrington said. “The CDR pilot plant has conditions that are typical for a larger plant so it’s a great place to experiment.”

In addition to a few trials at CDR , Burrington also recommended that Candinas attend the CDR Cultured Products short course to learn more about yogurt production. The course, which is held bi-annually, covers the basics of manufacturing yogurt, sour cream, kefir and specialty products, incorporating lectures, demonstration labs and evaluations, which assist attendees in their production of high quality, fermented dairy products.

Although Candinas had experience in the food industry, he says he was able to gain a great deal from the Cultured Products short course, including information about milk that helped him to enhance his chocolate confections.

“KJ has been helpful in hooking me up with everything from culture companies to technical assistance,” Candinas said. “The ability to go to CDR and meet with people who have been living and breathing this industry and to be able to test out ideas in their facility is great.”

In 2016, when Candinas was building the Yodelay yogurt plant, Burrington introduced him to TURBO Program manager, Vic Grassman, who was able to help Candinas secure a grant through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to purchase a homogenizer. The grant program, which assisted eleven dairy foods companies from May 2013 to September 2016, helped to create or retain 29 jobs and leveraged a 10 to 1 return on WEDC funds.

After securing the necessary equipment and finalizing his product, Candinas’ dream, 14 years in the making, finally came true in April 2017 when Yodelay Yogurt launched in stores. Available in raspberry, peach-raspberry, pineapple, rhubarb, tart cherry, blueberry and strawberry, the yogurt has received positive feedback from consumers, including Burrington, who is proud of the product she had a hand in creating.

“Yodelay won two Best of Class awards at the World Championship Cheese Contest, including a sweep of the top five spots in the Flavored Lowfat Yogurt category. Yodelay also took home Best of Class and a third place award in the Drinkable Cultured Products class.”

“I like the yogurt because of its bright, tart flavor and I enjoy the fact that all of the fruit flavors are very true to the fruit,” said Burrington. “My favorite is the rhubarb yogurt.”

Candinas is proud to say that the Swiss yogurt he so loved as a child is quickly finding its niche in the United States.

“We’ve been doing in-store tastings and it’s so great to see that people like it,” Candinas said. “There’s always an element of self-doubt with something new like this. Yes, there’s an entire country that enjoys this style of yogurt, but I didn’t know if Americans would accept it. It’s not your usual yogurt, but the response has been amazingly great. I just can’t help but feel like we’re on to something here.”

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This article originally appeared in the Dairy Pipeline.