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Location:
 Gooding, Idaho ­ Twin Falls County
Project Area: Food Safety and Certification

 

Situation

Stacie and Steve Ballard moved to Gooding, Idaho in 1993 to pursue Steve’s dream of operating a dairy farm. The Ballards purchased 25 Jersey dairy cows and began selling milk to a large commercial cheese producer. Despite expanding the operation in hopes of turning a profit, the bottom line suffered as payments on land, cows and equipment skyrocketed and the price of milk tanked. “We ramped up to 150 cows, but the numbers still weren’t working,” said Stacie Ballard. “We decided we needed to get a whole lot bigger, or go out of business. Instead, we decided to diversify and add value to our raw material, milk, by producing a line of artisan cheeses.”

Solution

In addition to personal initiative and hard work, the Ballards consulted with food specialist, Jeff Kronenberg, of TechHelp and the University of Idaho, who put his knowledge and his network of food professionals at the disposal of the Ballards. Jeff helped the Ballards secure funding from the United Dairymen of Idaho that helped pay for services including:

  • Assistance developing a line of artisan cheese products
  • Ongoing assistance from TechHelp and cheese experts on product and process creation, safety and improvement
  • TechHelp assistance in building and managing an ecommerce Web site at www.ballardcheese.com
  • Ongoing assistance to help explore and develop new products and markets

Results

  • The Ballards developed six varieties of cheese curds, several varieties of cheddar cheese and new additions including Danish Pearl and Greek Style Haloumi
  • Ballard Pepper Cheddar Cheese took first place at the American Cheese Society 2006 Annual Conference. Ballard Idaho Garlic Herb was the second placed Flavored Cheese
  • The Ballard’s ecommerce site opened new markets and is driving increased sales
  • The Artesian Cheese niche offers great margins compared to the commodity cheesemarket
  • New cheese products led to increased sales of $38K and retained sales of $18k
  • Process improvements generated $10K in cost savings
  • The Ballards invested $14K in plant & equipment in order to bring new products to market and ramp up cheese production to about 20,000 pounds per month
  • The Ballards are adding production capacity to meet increased market demand
  • The Ballards may construct a new facility that can be used for tours, retail sales, cheese making classes, education and research
  • Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese has become a sustainable business with a bright future
As a food producer in rural Idaho, we feel very fortunate that we can tap in to the knowledge and expertise available through TechHelp and its network of service providers. Everyone has been unbelievably helpful and really wants to see small farmers like us succeed.Stacie Ballard, The Big Cheese, Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese