Noosa Finest Yoghurt

Noosa Finest Yoghurt

by Sandra Hume

MY FIRST TASTE OF NOOSA YOGHURT was at Copper Mountain. Company representatives were distributing samples in the parking lot. Frantically gathering our ski essentials for the shuttle ride, my husband and I told our sample-obsessed kids sure, fine, get some free yogurt, if they’re offering. Have at it.

It wasn’t until we returned to the parking lot later, when we got even more samples, that I actually tasted the yogurt. “Isn’t it good?” my daughter asked, watching my face. It was, I agreed. And is there any more lemon?

This is an example of the just-taste-it, guerrilla-marketing approach Bellvue-based Noosa has relied on to spread the yogurt word. For five years, Noosa Finest Yoghurt has gambled and won on its unique version of yogurt co-founder Koel Thomae discovered in Australia and brought stateside in 2010. The company shares its headquarters in Bellvue, Colorado with Morning Fresh Dairy, which supplies the milk for yogurt production.

The company’s first expansion outside Colorado was to the Midwest, which at first made Thomae a little nervous. This was a new and different product; would the Midwest embrace a trend? But Noosa was a hit, Thomae says. “The Iowans know good dairy.”

Today Noosa is distributed in all 50 states and at retailers including Target, Kroger, and Whole Foods, though its hooves remain planted in Northern Colorado soil. The company is well entrenched in the community, presenting both monetary and in-kind donations to cycling groups, Fort Collins’ before- and-after-school program B.A.S.E. Camp, and the Food Bank of Larimer County (replacing their Kids’ Café mayonnaise with plain yogurt).

Noosa still uses Morning Fresh’s milk to ferment into 25 million pounds of yogurt each year — about 50 million 8-ounce clear,
rounded flat containers that are the company’s signature.
And despite last fall’s acquisition of the company by Boston- based investment firm Advent International, headquarters will remain in Bellvue. In case anyone needs a reminder, a $5 million expansion is nearing completion, bringing the yogurt production facility’s total footprint to 55,000 square feet.

“Until now we’ve been very lean and very scrappy,” says Thomae. “We’re happy to have some new digs to call our own.” Once the company is out from under a construction schedule, she looks forward to offering tours. “These are fourth-generation dairy farmers, very well known in the area. We know people would love to come out and meet the cows.”

New flavors and sizes are rolling out, including “lunchbox” mini-containers and 24-ounce family sizes in plain, honey,
and vanilla. Come midsummer, fans can expect the return of pumpkin along with a new seasonal option of cranberry apple.

And about that lemon. Lemon happens to be Thomae’s favorite flavor, but she knew that as yogurt flavors went, it was a bit ho-hum. So from the start the goal was best-in-class. “We knew the benchmark was low. So we went for the decadent taste, to replicate more of that lemon-tart, lemon-curd filling. Now when people try it, they say, “This isn’t lemon yogurt.”

EITHER THAT, OR THE BEST LEMON YOGURT EVER.

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