WESTBY, WIS. -- Westby Cooperative Creamery has debuted a new, all-natural sour cream squeezable pouch to its retail line of dairy products. It will be available in select grocery stores August 2021.

“Consumer needs and preferences are ever changing, and this new product – sour cream in a pouch – addresses two key trends: convenience and cleanliness,” said Emily Bialkowski, Westby Creamery sales and marketing manager. “Dispensing sour cream in a pouch eliminates the need for utensils, such as a spoon, and that means less clean-up for consumers. Additionally, pouches are fully enclosed; meaning your household chef won’t have to leave an open container of sour cream sitting out potentially collecting bacteria.

“This project also provides another layer of security for our farmers, who need a consistent place to send their milk. When demand is high for the products we make, farmers can be assured 100 percent of their milk is used by the Creamery.”

The project began in 2018 when the Creamery sought new ways to increase its sour cream sales. The squeezable sour cream pouch checked all of the necessary boxes. Not only will it drive sales, it also allows the Creamery to compete with other well-known brands. The Creamery expects to increase sour cream sales by 3,000,000 pounds annually and, as a result, four jobs will be added.

Considerable time and energy has gone into bringing this pouch to life. The Creamery purchased a filler for packaging the pouches, and the plant had to undergo renovations to ensure production could run smoothly.

The process of putting sour cream in a pouch begins with milk, which is separated to create the main ingredient – cream – for sour cream. Next, the cream is mixed with other ingredients and goes through pasteurization and homogenization. The mixture is then put in a tank where cultures and bacteria are added to develop flavor and desired pH levels. When desired pH levels are reached, the product is cooled and sent to the filler where it is put into 14-ounce pouches.

Innovation is crucial to remain relevant in the food industry — especially for a small dairy cooperative like Westby Creamery. “We have to be willing to try new products and techniques,” said Ryan O’Donnell, Westby Creamery plant manager, said. “It’s what will keep us around for many years.”