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 is getting out of the ice cream business.

The Baton Rouge company said Friday it would not resume production of its ice cream, which was halted in December.

Ice cream accounted for 3 percent of Kleinpeter’s sales.

Kenneth P. Kleinpeter Sr., general manager of the family-owned dairy, said the company decided to concentrate its efforts on its core dairy products. Plans are to turn the dairy’s ice cream production facility into refrigeration space. The ice cream delivery trucks will be turned into milk trucks.

The dairy has been concentrating on the quality of its milk since getting customer complaints last year about milk having a funny taste and turning sour before its expiration date. The problem was traced to an equipment malfunction that the company fixed.

Kleinpeter Farms launched its ice cream line in 2008 and sold it statewide and along the Mississippi coast. It produced 25 different flavors, ranging from staples such as chocolate and vanilla to unique items like sweet potato pie. Most of the ice creams contained 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.

In December, Kleinpeter announced it had stopped making ice cream and was considering outsourcing the manufacturing of the frozen treats. At the time, Jeff Kleinpeter, president of the dairy, said the decision to resume local production depended on whether the right person could be found to manage the ice cream division.

Jeff Kleinpeter announced in January he was taking a short sabbatical from his leadership duties after working to overcome last year’s quality issues involving the dairy’s milk. He said the long work hours would “wear anyone out.”

Kenneth Kleinpeter Sr. said Friday it would have been difficult for the dairy to have the oversight it needed if ice cream production had been outsourced to another vendor.

“It was difficult to keep up the level of quality that we demand and our customers expect,” he said. “So we decided to focus on what we do best.”

“In recent months, we’ve achieved some goals that are very important to us. We’ve been certified by the Safe Quality Food Institute, the globally recognized authority on food safety and quality. We’ve made major investments in facility upgrades to ensure that our products are of the highest quality,” Kenneth Kleinpeter Sr. said.

Jeff Kleinpeter had said the company spent “in the neighborhood of $3 million” after the milk problems on replacing equipment, hiring a full-time sanitation manager and sending employees to rigorous national training programs.

Stores that sell Kleinpeter Ice Cream are being notified of the decision to permanently halt production. Any ice cream that is not sold by March 1 will be collected and credited to the stores’ accounts.

“We thank the thousands of customers who have been supportive of Kleinpeter Ice Cream over the years,” Kenneth Kleinpeter Sr. said.

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