Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center
eNews - March 2017
Featured Client: Billy Goat Ice Cream Co.
Food Industry Project: 1907 Meat Co.
Research Project: Validation of Gas-Fired Oven for Onion Pasteurization
Highlighted Video: FAPC 2016 Activity Highlights
Highlighted Photo: Sanitary Design
Activity at FAPC
In 2010, RaShaun Robinson had an idea for a new business during a business plan competition while attending Langston University. While discovering that Langston had one of the largest goat research facilities in the world, RaShaun decided to study at the facility and learn more about goat's milk. Because of the health advantages
in goat's milk compared to traditional cow's milk, his idea was to create a goat milk ice cream under the company name Billy Goat Ice Cream. After winning the competition, he put the idea to the side until he entered graduate school at Oklahoma State University.
RaShaun met Caleb Neil during graduate school, and they began to dissect the business plan he created three years earlier. After completing additional research on the health benefits of goat's milk, the two decided to create the business as an all-natural premium quality ice cream that would appeal to consumers that shop at retailers such as Whole Foods Markets and Sprouts Farmers Market. They also wanted to target consumers who are lactose intolerant as well as those with dietary restrictions. The team entered the business in another competition and received first place. RaShaun and Caleb then began to make ice cream batches and pass them around campus and events to gain customer feedback and determine the market for their product. During one of these events, they met Brian Wiles from USDA, who suggested the team apply for a Rural Business Enterprise Grant. The team then secured REI Oklahoma of Durant as their grant applicant and after several months of waiting, the team was awarded grant funding for machinery. They also secured a production facility and office space at Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater.
RaShaun attended FAPC's Basic Training for food entrepreneurs in June 2014. Once the recipes were finalized in November 2014, Billy Goat Ice Cream was available in several stores in Stillwater. FAPC provided assistance to Billy Goat Ice Cream in many different ways including sanitation assistance, labeling assistance and product testing.
Billy Goat has five signature flavors: Bourbon Vanilla Bean, Coffee Cocoa Chip, Dark Chocolate, Garden Mint and Salted Caramel. The two small batch flavors are Blueberry Ginger Signature and Roasted Strawberry Balsamic. By May 2015, their market had expanded into eight Green Acres Markets located in Oklahoma and Kansas. During 2015 and 2016, the number of stores increased at a steady rate. In July 24, 2015, the company joined the Made in Oklahoma Coalition. Since joining, the company also has been involved in the Emerging Committee in 2016, which has assisted several smaller companies gain space in the Associated Wholesale Grocers warehouse. AWG has again boosted the Billy Goat Ice Cream retail presence in more grocery stores throughout the state. As they approach the end of their lease with Meridian Technology Business Incubator and are looking to relocate to a new facility, FAPC has helped develop a lay design for the new space. Currently, the company's products are in 46 stores and recently been accepted into Walmart stores with the first shipment being in April 2017 to about 65 super centers.
FAPC teamed up with Unitherm Food Systems Inc. in Bristow, Oklahoma to focus on onion food safety. Unitherm, a market leader in innovative equipment technologies for pasteurization, cooking and chilling of raw, partially cooked and fully cooked food products and agricultural food commodities, developed a gas-fired flame grill to help reduce bacteria in products. Onions are moved along a conveyer belt and hit with flames to burn the outer layer where the bacteria would reside. A secondary system with a wet scrub brush is used to remove the ash residue from the onions. FAPC collaborated with Unitherm for microbial validation of the system. The research team looked at yeast, mold and listeria on red, yellow and white onions and quantified how much bacteria remained after going through the system. This system is beneficial because the onions are cleaned without physical manipulation or yield loss. Eliminating the bacteria on the outer layer is important for both further processors and consumers. Preparing onions for consumption typically involves cutting, and if Listeria is on the outside of the onion, it is dragged to the inside or onto the cutting surface with each slice. The validation has already helped Unitherm provide this food-safety process for companies around the world.
FAPC held a new workshop, Sanitary Design, in October. This two-day, hands-on class focused on the basics of sanitary design in food-processing operations related to equipment, facility, materials of construction, Food Safety Modernization Act and cleaning methods.
- FAPC served on 42 key client projects.
- 33 visitor sessions or tours and a total of 315 guests visited the center for tours or work.
- FAPC issued 11 Process Authority Letters and 9 nutrition label sets.
- FAPC communications included 53 media and news releases, articles, extension reports and feature articles.
- 16 continuing education and training events were held with 26 attendees.
- The FAPC pilot plant harvested or processed 52 beef, 66 hogs and 12 lambs.