Here's the key factor to Kleinpeter resuming its ice cream production _lowres

Advocate staff file photo -- Kleinpeter Farms Dairy has decided to exit the ice cream business, which it started in 2008. The dairy halted production in December and was considering outsourcing manufacturing.

Kleinpeter Farms Dairy has halted production of its ice cream and is considering outsourcing the manufacturing of the frozen treat.

Jeff Kleinpeter, president of the family-owned dairy in Baton Rouge, said the decision to resume local production depends on whether the right person can be found to manage the ice cream division. Don Gerald, who oversaw the manufacture of ice cream, recently retired.

“As much as we love our Kleinpeter Ice Cream and hope to be in a position to be able to resume ice cream production here on-site, that depends on our ability to find a manager who meets the high standards we have set for our dairy products,” Kleinpeter said in a statement.

According to Kleinpeter, there are about 4,000 half-gallons and 8,000 pints of ice cream currently in the dairy’s freezers.

Kleinpeter launched its ice cream line in 2008 and sells it statewide and along the coast of Mississippi. It produces 25 different flavors, ranging from staples such as chocolate and vanilla to unique items like sweet potato pie. Most of the ice creams contain Louisiana-made ingredients, such as Ruston peaches, Ponchatoula strawberries and Community Coffee. Kleinpeter spent about $3 million expanding its Airline Highway dairy to formulate and manufacture ice cream. Officials with the privately held company would not disclose how much of its sales come from ice cream.

The dairy is currently focusing on the quality of its milk. Kleinpeter was hit with customer complaints earlier this year about milk having a funny taste and turning sour before its expiration date. Kleinpeter has said the company spent “in the neighborhood of $3 million” on replacing equipment, hiring a full-time sanitation manager and sending employees to rigorous national training programs.

The dairy recently was certified by the Safe Quality Food Program, a rigorous food safety management system, based on scientific measures. In recognition of that honor, Kleinpeter has launched a special promotion, putting milk on sale for the first time. This is a “way of thanking our loyal customers for sticking with us” and “inviting new customers to try our milk,” Kleinpeter said.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.