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Milk Modifications

Side Dishes: Tasty yogurt - take three

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It began as Starhill Dairy and morphed into Woodstock Water Buffalo, and now the country's only water buffalo creamery is changing its name yet again. Over the next two months, the company will roll out its third identity: Vermont SpoonDance Creamery.

Why the switch? "We did a lot of consumer research throughout 2007 and found that the new brand has a lot of consumer appeal," says Marketing Director Carey Clifford. Is that code for "People were weirded out by the idea of shaggy beasts with big horns, well, lactating"?

Maybe a little. "People were reluctant to try it because they aren't familiar with water buffalo milk," Clifford admits. "It's not a strange-tasting milk. It tastes a lot like cow's milk, but people thought it would taste strange."

Consumers will probably notice the updated look and feel when the company launches its new line of low-fat yogurts. The lo-yo should be available in the next couple of weeks, Clifford hopes, noting the company wants to roll out the new product in Vermont "before we go national." Flavors will include strawberry, raspberry and vanilla.

The next challenge for the dairy is using up all the leftover cream that's removed to make the skinnier stuff. "If we don't use it, that low-fat yogurt will be a really expensive product for us," Clifford says, chuckling. "The ice cream is in the R&D phase . . . it's been fun trying the test batches." Don't expect to see any cartoon images of water buffalo on the pints.

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