Back in the 1990s, Doug and Louisa Westendorp were very busy — they not only operated the WestVale-View Dairy in Nashville, Mich., but also were raising six young children, including a set of twins and triplets. Constructing a dairy processing plant was, perhaps, the last thing on the couple’s mind.
But when their kids got older and ultimately expressed interest in remaining on the farm, the idea of a creamery started to take form. So 17 years ago, Doug and Louisa Westendorp officially expanded from dairy farming into dairy processing with the Memorial Day 2005 opening of Moo-Ville Creamery in Nashville, Mich., notes Troy Westendorp, one of the couple’s sons and a co-owner of the creamery with his parents and other family members.
The first year, the family bottled milk, he says, then added ice cream to production in year two.
“We kept adding new products throughout the years, and wholesale accounts kept growing,” Troy Westendorp says. “We now focus on making high-quality milk and ice cream.”
It starts with A2A2 milk
The milk used to produce Moo-Ville Creamery’s dairy products today is still supplied by the family’s WestVale-View Dairy (the dairy milks 200 Holstein cows using robots). That’s a major differentiator because the dairy’s cows produce exclusively A2A2 milk, explains Levi Westendorp, co-owner and Troy Westendorp’s brother.
As the company explains on its website, most cows produce milk with both A1 and A2 proteins. Some studies suggest that people who have difficulty digesting milk have fewer issues with A2A2 milk.
On the milk side, Troy Westendorp says Moo-Ville Creamery currently offers:
- Half-gallon containers of homogenized milk in whole, skim, 2%, and Chocolate varieties.
- Pint containers of homogenized milk in 2%, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Moo Brew (coffee milk) varieties.
- Gallon containers in whole, skim, 2%, and Chocolate varieties, as well as a cream-line (non-homogenized) variety.
Moo-Ville Creamery also produces a lot of ice cream, Troy Westendorp notes, including:
- Soft-serve mix in Vanilla and Chocolate flavors.
- 60 flavors of super-premium hard ice cream in 3-gallon pails.
- 36 flavors of super-premium hard ice cream in 48-ounce containers.
- Eight flavors of super-premium hard ice cream in pint containers.
According to the company, all ice cream is made with pure Michigan sugar (no high-fructose sugar) and locally sourced flavors. The milk and ice cream are sold primarily within the state of Michigan — in outlets ranging from mom and pop gas stations to bigger box chains, Troy Westendorp says.
“We have our milk in over 60 coffee shops throughout the state,” he points out. “Ninety-five percent of our distribution on our own trucks is within 60 miles of the creamery. We do have three distributors that cover the rest of the state with our products.”
Moo-Ville Creamery also operates four of its own retail shops in Michigan (in Nashville, Ionia, Zeeland, and Eaton Rapids), where it sells its own dairy products (the company also produces some butter and cheese) and other food items.
New flavors boast appeal
Although COVID-19 has slowed down Moo-Ville Creamery’s new product development work, sales of existing products are strong, Levi Westendorp notes.
“We still see increased numbers in all of our milk lines, including white,” he says. “A lot of this is attributed to being A2A2, and the benefits of that continue to spread mostly by word of mouth and social media.”
The company did introduce five new flavors of ice cream this year, however.
“The flavors kind of evolved around a new inclusion that I found that I knew I could keep in stock!” Troy Westendorp says.
The new flavors include Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (a salty peanut butter ice cream with chunks of cookie dough), Pieces of Heaven (brown butter ice cream with Reese’s Pieces candy), Chocolate Malt Extreme (chocolate malt ice cream with a chocolate marshmallow ribbon and Whopper pieces), Birthday Cake Celebration (cake batter ice cream with blue frosting and white cake pieces), and Unicorn Poo (grape-flavored ice cream with a sour swirl and Pop Rocks).
The new flavors have received a warm reception, Troy Westendorp says.
It’s worth noting that one of Moo-Ville Creamery’s existing ice cream flavors, Chocolate, earned the top honor — a blue ribbon — at ConeCon 2021, the North American Ice Cream Association’s most recent annual trade show and ice cream competition. In honor of the win, the company renamed the product Blue Ribbon Chocolate, Troy Westendorp says.
The win also reflects Moo-Ville Creamery’s strong commitment to quality across its product lines.
“We really focus on quality and let the product speak for itself,” Troy Westendorp says. “We are not the cheapest price on the market, but if you make a good product, people will search you out, and you can develop repeat customers.”
Adjusting to challenges
Although the “taste difference” brings most customers back for a repeat purchase, Moo-Ville Creamery does attend a handful of trade shows with product marketing in mind. It also engages in targeted marketing via Facebook, Troy Westendorp says.
“With over 32,000 followers, we can get the word out about any special or new flavors pretty quickly using Facebook,” he stresses.
A major expansion in terms of sales, however, is not currently on the agenda.
“At this point, we are basically maxed out on production and just trying to keep our heads above water,” Troy Westendorp explains.
Like many other companies, Moo-Ville Creamery also is challenged in keeping its core items in stock right now because of supply chain issues, he adds.
“We have been very blessed with our team of core employees that has stuck with us for three-plus years and keeps everything going,” Troy Westendorp says. “Since COVID, we have tried to keep more of everything in stock so if there is a shortage, we can try to make adjustments as needed.”
Moo-Ville Creamery also has no plans in the works for opening up new retail stores, but that could change, Troy Westendorp suggests.
“We never turn down an opportunity that just feels right,” he stresses.