Farmer’s yogurt based on wife’s family recipe

Tonjia Rolan

Andle van der Ploeg loves yogurt. He particularly loves his wife, Sjierkje’s, homemade family recipe from the Netherlands.

“We just couldn’t find yogurt in the states like my wife makes all the time at home,” Van der Ploeg said.

Yogurt is a natural for the Van der Ploegs, who own Mid Frisian dairy, home to nearly 1,800 milk cows.

The two began building a yogurt manufacturing facility on the dairy in 2009. It was a bad year for dairies and the project got put on hold, Andle Van der Ploeg said.

As the economy improved, the couple resumed construction and have completed the 1,440-square-feet yogurt production plant that will produce Freanna Original Yogurt, mama’s home recipe.

The name is taken from Friesland, their homeland, and Anna, one of their highest producing cows.

An 800-square-foot cold storage facility is being planned as the second phase of the project.

Van der Ploeg said the plant will open in about two months and, in its initial stage, hire about three people. Once the expansion project is finished, Van der Ploeg said a staff of 10 may be needed.

The family has been busy marketing its unique product locally and has several interested merchandisers, Van der Ploeg said.

“It was hard to find the right equipment in the U.S.,” Van der Ploeg said. “We had to order special tanks from the Netherlands.” Van der Ploeg said all the necessary equipment has been acquired. The next step will be hooking it up.

The family business will start small, said Van der Ploeg, but has the capacity to produce 8,000 pounds of yogurt every 12 hours.

Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry said the venture provides a good additional use for one of the area’s greatest resources, milk.

“We hope it can grow into a major production facility,” Gentry said.

Gentry said other dairy related businesses that have done well in the area are Southwest Cheese Co. of Clovis and DairiConcepts of Portales.

Other industries that benefit are agriculture and trucking, Gentry said.

“This is good for Clovis and good for the economy,” Gentry said. “It’s nice to have locally grown businesses that we can help grow and succeed.”