“We aren’t focused on being the biggest, but being the best”
- Scott Van Horn, President
Sugar Creek Foods & Honey Hill Farms
We want to create something different and unique for our customers. How do you do that in a crowded and competitive field? Produce a “truly crafted” frozen yogurt.
Having been friends since we were kids, we teamed up in 2007 and purchased Sugar Creek Foods, a business that was near and dear to our hearts. Our first day of business was a bit scary. You see, we had thirty-five employees and zero volume; a challenge most folks wouldn’t take on. But this was not our first rodeo in the soft-serve frozen yogurt business. We both worked with Mac Van Horn (Scott’s father) from the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s, when Sugar Creek Foods was first rescued from closure. Together, we helped to build one of the largest and most successful soft-serve frozen dessert plants in the United States.
Sugar Creek was a dominant player in the frozen yogurt industry, manufacturing the Sugar Creek brand and other private labels. After many successful years, the company was purchased by Eskimo Pie; more famous names in the industry were produced, including Honey Hill Farms. Once again, Sugar Creek Foods was facing closure after its sale to an international company when we had the idea to buy back the plant because we saw a niche in the frozen soft-serve market. We wanted to offer premium, high quality frozen dessert mixes featuring a frozen yogurt and sorbet unlike any on the market.
The term “crafted” is thrown around a lot, but it is the mantra at Sugar Creek Foods. Bulky flavorings are key—like real fruit purees, indulgent cocoas, vanillas, vanilla beans, coffees, cookies, marshmallow, nuts, and other exotic flavoring ingredients carefully blended into each batch. We don’t buy from one major flavoring company. Sugar Creek casts a wide net out into the flavoring world and we pick the very best.
Another process many producers have forgotten, in these days of automation, is the aging process of the product prior to blast freezing. It is an added step and difficult for many, but Sugar Creek has kept the tradition of letting all the ingredients—especially the complicated flavoring—settle and mature in cooler vaults prior to blast freezing. That's crafting with care.
Attention to detail
You wouldn’t think the packaging of frozen dessert mixes and frozen yogurt is a big deal. Well, it was for us. We thought the industry’s choices of packaging cartons and milk jugs were not a good fit for our customers. Cartons leaked and milk jugs are not an efficient use of space. Unable to find a solution, we decided to design our own packaging and we built a plant which introduced the “Super Jug” to the frozen dessert and yogurt world. Designed by Scott, the focus of the new “Super Jug” was to make something that didn't leak, used 23% less storage space, was sustainable and recyclable, and easy to use. All it takes is a few shakes, twist off the cap and pour!
How do we decide which products to bring to market? Well, new flavors are tested by consumers. If they don’t like it, we don’t make it. If they like it, we make it. It’s a long process, but it's worth the effort. We recently sampled Honey Hill Farms “Cupcake” with excited consumers. We think we captured the true taste of “Cupcake” with red indulgent chocolate cupcake base with added cream cheese icing droplets. The testers said we nailed it and that they loved the icing droplets dispersed throughout the mix. We had the same great response with our new product, Honey Hill Farms ”Rocky Road”, filled with real marshmallow and nuts.
We promote “good-tasting wellness.” Nutrition is an important part of developing a great frozen yogurt and this is embraced along with producing a product that people will eat and enjoy. Honey Hill Farms is focused on producing several categories of frozen yogurt: Low Fat, Non-Fat, No Sugar Added Non-Fat, and Non-Fat Non-Dairy (Sorbets). Certification of Live Active Cultures is very important in promoting the wellness benefits of frozen yogurt. Our frozen yogurt contains viable counts of live active cultures—four cultures (one is a probiotic) that are not only certified at the time of manufacturing, but also in the finished product. Be well and be good to yourself by enjoying a cup of frozen yogurt with friends and family!
We are proud of the fact that Sugar Creek Foods Plant has been producing high quality niche products in Russellville, Arkansas since 1946. The Honey Hill Farms brand has been a favorite among frozen yogurt eaters for over 30 years. The two combined have helped hundreds of independent operators and chains to differentiate themselves from all the other frozen yogurt shops.
Our goal is to make the best, stay focused on our customers, create innovative products, help you support your dreams of building profitable businesses, and most of all, have fun in the process.
An open invitation
We would like to invite serious future and present frozen dessert shop owners to come and visit us at our plant. We would be happy to show you what we do, give you a sample, and let you see all the good folks that work so hard to make the best frozen dessert mixes. Let us visit with you about your plans. Unlike others, no fees or contracts are necessary to come see us. We’re just happy to have you take an interest in our plant and products. We look forward to meeting you!
- Scott Van Horn and Bud Gunter
Visit Sugar Creek Foods International to learn more.