I just got back from my visit to the company we’ll be featuring next month in Dairy Field Reports, and it was a real treat in more ways than one.

I just got back from my visit to the company we’ll be featuring next month in Dairy Field Reports, and it was a real treat in more ways than one.

It’s always a pleasure to travel to the Pacific Northwest, where the scenic beauty has few rivals. Luckily I had a little extra time during my trip to Oregon to experience some of the Columbia River Gorge and spectacular Multnomah Falls, though Mount Hood was shrouded by cloud cover.

And being an inveterate roadfoodie, I couldn’t resist the maple bacon bar at Portland’s Voodoo Doughnuts – yes, friends, a doughnut with bacon on it. It’s probably the best long john I’ve ever had, even without the added texture and sweet-salty marriage that took the whole thing up at least two or three notches.

But then it was down to business. It was my privilege to once again visit YoCream International, which grappled with the 2007-09 recession by generating double-digit growth in its sales of high-culture-count frozen yogurt mixes and other frozen dessert products for the foodservice arena. YoCream is the exclusive supplier of frozen yogurt mix to Costco, which sells the soft serve in its food courts, and the company has several other high-profile clients.

Both times I’ve visited, YoCream had just recently completed some sort of expansion - warehouse space, new fillers - to handle its growing business. This time, one of its latest additions was a retail frozen yogurt shop in a new upscale retail development near Portland International Airport.

I’ll try not to steal too much of my own thunder from next month’s feature, but the store has exceeded management’s expectations, which were basically to break even while gaining valuable consumer feedback. Instead, the place is jammed most every night with folks eager to try the latest unique flavor in cups and waffle sundaes, with soft-serve yogurt and toppings offered in a self-serve environment.

The store is also the campus for YoCream University, an intensive training course for entrepreneurs interested in entering the business of frozen yogurt franchising. The course, administered by members of YoCream’s executive team, imparts the lessons of good business and customer service as well as the nutritional bounty of yogurt delivered in a fun format.

I was very impressed not only by the store, but by the effort YoCream is making to promote entrepreneurism and nurture the best and brightest of the business world to help grow a vital segment of the dairy industry. CEO John Hanna says he hopes his company’s efforts, especially those supporting stronger standards of identity for frozen yogurt, benefit the industry as a whole. As the economy bounces back, the pool of discretionary income is deepening, ready to be spent by consumers looking for good nutrition, good taste and a good time. I commend Hanna and his crew for going over and above to not only support their industry but make it a vital part of economic recovery.

The folks at YoCream are betting that frozen yogurt’s best times are still to come, and judging by their past success and current enthusiasm, they just may be right.

Meanwhile, I’ll look forward to my next opportunity to visit Portland and enjoy a freshly baked waffle festooned with fresh fruit and YoCream’s Original Tart peach-mango frozen yogurt – hold the bacon.

But what does Jim think of …?

I could have gone off on the food police again over the whole salt thing, but I didn’t want to start sounding like a one-note samba. Anyway, Donna Berry covers the issue starting on page 54. Enjoy …