South Florida consumers of Alpina Greek yogurt, yogurt smoothies and other dairy products might be surprised to learn that Alpina is a Colombian company founded by two Swiss entrepreneurs who started a small cheese-making operation outside Bogotá, Colombia, in 1945.
Walter Goggel and Max Bazinger, Swiss immigrants to South America, liked the Andean scenery in the small town of Sopó, Colombia, as well as access to local diary farms, and established their business there. The cheese operation grew.
Today, Colombia-based Alpina Productos Alimenticios S.A. is a privately owned multinational dairy enterprise with ten production facilities in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and the U.S. (Batavia, N.Y.), 2014 revenues of about $820 million and sales in 20 nations. It is one of the largest diary producers in Colombia.
The company was named Alpina to reflect the Alpine roots of its founders.
“Alpina Foods brings seven decades of dairy experience to our operations here in the U.S.,” said Gustavo Badino, the Miami-based general manager of Alpina in the U.S., in response to questions sent by email. “But we also bring an unparalleled understanding of Latin American flavors and we’re excited to put them together to offer an expanded line of Alpina products to consumers nationwide.”
The company has broadened its product line to appeal beyond Hispanic communities to the general public in the U.S., offering items such as Greek and low-fat yogurts with granola and additional flavors.
Miami-based Alpina Foods is a subsidiary of Alpina Productos Alimenticios, and is the company’s U.S. headquarters and base for its national sales and marketing operations. The Miami office was opened in 2009 as Alpina moved to establish its presence in the U.S. In 2012 the company opened a state-of-the art production plant in Batavia. Most Alpina products sold in the U.S. are made in Batavia, while some are imported from Colombia.
Alpina has 40 employees in Miami and Batavia, and about 6,500 in total.
The company, which stresses healthy foods, began selling to the Hispanic market in South Florida, and now reaches Latinos and the general market in the U.S. Its packaging typically provides a product description in English on one side, and in Spanish on the other.
“We offer a wide variety of products in the U.S.,” Badino said, “including Colombian favorites to meet the market’s desire for South American flavors that many American Hispanics crave.”
These include avena (oat) smoothies, tropical fruit flavors and dulce de leche caramel spread.
Alpina-branded Greek yogurt, Greek yogurt with granola, low-fat yogurt, NBA All-Stars yogurt, yogurt smoothies, yogurt infused with Colombian coffee, avena (oat) smoothies and dulce de leche caramel spread are other key items in Alpina’s U.S. product line.
Smoothies come in flavors such as mango, peach, strawberry, guava and guanábana (soursop or custard apple). The NBA All-Stars yogurt line (sold under a licensing agreement with the NBA) has toppings like cookies, white chocolate rice dunkers and chocolate pretzels.
Avena, a traditional staple in many Latin American homes, is a creamy, oat-based dairy beverage. Avena products are big sellers in Latin America and the company is promoting this line as a quick and tasty source of good nutrition for all American consumers.
Alpina products are sold in large retail chains like Walmart, Publix and Winn-Dixie in South Florida, in Fiesta Markets, Western Beef and ShopRite stores in other parts of the country, as well as in small retail outlets.
Alpina sells directly to retailers and through distributors, Badino said. In South Florida, Alpina has weekly direct delivery to stores.
The company is constantly developing new products to broaden its market appeal. For example, in early 2015, Alpina launched Café Selection, its first-ever line of Greek yogurt with real Colombian coffee, not “coffee flavoring,” the company said. This new line includes Mocha, Caramel Macchiato, Vanilla Latte and Coffee and is sold as an alternative to sugary snacks and drinks. This yogurt is a excellent source of calcium, has protein and caffeine and 120 calories per cup, Alpina said.
“We are always looking to innovate in the dairy aisle,” Badino said. “Once we found a recipe that tastes just like the consumer’s favorite flavor and were able to include actual Colombian coffee, we knew we had a unique product the consumer would want and enjoy.”
Once Alpina had become an important player in Colombia, the company began looking for new markets, expanding production facilities to neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela and exporting its products to other regional countries.
Its multimillion dollar investment in the Batavia plant and its Miami-based national sales and marketing initiatives provide the base for Alpina’s expansion in the huge U.S. market.
National sales for Alpina products are about 50-50 among Hispanic buyers and the general market, Badino said. In South Florida, sales are heavier in Latino communities.
“The original goals established by Alpina’s founders in 1945 remain central to the company today,” Badino said. Alpina is a consumer-centric and environmentally friendly enterprise that embraces the philosophy of collective prosperity and shared values, encouraging success within the company, in its neighboring communities and in the world: “With our innovative, health-focused great-tasting products, Alpina sees its growth reaching far into the future.”
The writer can be reached at email@example.com.
Business: Alpina Foods, the U.S. subsidiary of Colombia-based Alpina Productos Alimenticios S.A., makes and sells a variety of artisan dairy products for the U.S. market. Alpina’s Miami office is in charge of U.S. sales and marketing and the company has a plant in Batavia, N.Y., that makes products sold on the American market. Alpina’s U.S. product line includes Greek yogurt, Greek yogurt with granola, low-fat yogurt, yogurt smoothies, yogurt infused with coffee, avena (oat) smoothies and dulce de leche caramel spread. The parent company has ten manufacturing facilities and sells its products in 20 countries.
Founded: In Sopó, Colombia (near Bogotá), in 1945 as a cheese factory.
Founders: Walter Goggel and Max Bazinger, two Swiss entrepreneurs.
CEO: Ernesto Fajardo
Miami office: 601 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, opened in 2009. Miami handles sales and marketing for the U. S.
Miami management: Gustavo Badino, general manager for Alpina Foods.
Operations: Manufacturing plants in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and the U.S. (Batavia, N.Y.). The Batavia plant has been operating since 2012.
Employees: 40 in Miami and Batavia, about 6,500 total.
Customers: Sells to retailers such as Publix, Walmart, Winn Dixie, Fiesta Markets, Western Beef and ShopRite, as well as small retail stores.
Ownership: Privately held.
Source: Alpina Foods