Kris Fuehr is passionate about yogurt.
So much in fact, that when local brand Cascade Fresh went out of business in 2014, she and her husband Curt approached the owner and asked to buy the brand.
After more than a year of scrambling, licensing, design and other work, Fuehr is excited to bring the 30-year old brand back to the shelves of local grocery stores with her company Wholesome Yogurt, Inc.
“Cascade Fresh previously got its reputation based on people who discovered it at the grocery store,” she said. “My husband and I discovered it 10 years ago, and it was the one yogurt all my family could agree on.”
The Fuehrs have three daughters, and the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt of Cascade Fresh was one all of them enjoyed, at least until the signature blue and white cups stopped appearing in the store.
“We didn’t know why, and neither did anybody else,” Fuehr said. “We actually reached out to the owner on LinkedIn. His wife had been ill, and the co-packer was moving operations so he just shut the doors.”
After some negotiation, the Fuehrs bought the Cascade Fresh brand in November 2014 and the previous owner’s recipes came with the sale.
The yogurt had seven strains of probiotics and Fuehr added another one to benefit children, Bifidobacterium Infantis. Her childhood experience on a beef farm and background in veterinary medicine gave her insight into dietary needs, even if they weren’t always for humans.
The problem wasn’t the flavor of the yogurt, which had always been consistent, nor was it the demand for Cascade Fresh. In fact, Fuehr shared a link which she calls her “gum wall,” where people could post memories of the brand. People are passionate about yogurt, it seems.
No, the biggest issue the Fuehrs had to tangle with was the same which caused the previous owner to sell — namely finding a company with the resources large enough to package and ship the product.
“We attempted to work in Washington state,” Fuehr said. “But the plant we ended up going with was in northern California.”
Some of the first customers have been in Seattle, however. The fact that the Fuehrs’ product is cultured in the cup, has billions of live cultures and the plastic cups are recyclable are big selling points.
Even so, the brand has an uphill battle to get back into a market saturated with products, particularly Greek yogurts. Kris Fuehr rolled her 401k into the project, so her faith in her “CFFs” (Cascade Fresh Fans) has to be strong.
It’s paid off so far, with a good reception at the Windermere Cup, May 7, when Fuehr and her daughters premiered the brand.
“The goal is to get it in as many mouths as possible,” she said. “People at [the Cup] were taking a sample and walking away before trying the yogurt and bee-lining back to our tent to tell us how much they liked it.”
As in the past, Cascade Fresh isn’t planning any national advertising campaign. Fuehr is meeting with national grocery chains and doing sampling at Seattle markets, but her hope is that word-of-mouth will carry the day.
“It’s a big challenge,” she said. “The categories of yogurt are extremely competitive right now.”
Current flavors include blueberry, lemon chiffon, blackcap raspberry, peach and strawberry. Other flavors, like orange cream and green apple pie are in the works.
Yogurt fans on the west coast can buy the yogurt online as well.
“We really are just stewards of this brand,” said Fuehr. “The community brought it back and we just pulled the levers to do it.”