For over 50 years, Foothills Creamery has been serving Western Canada with delicious butter, ice cream, soft serve, and more. These dairy products are produced using cream from local dairy farms across Western Canada.
Scott Wegener, director of marketing, came to work for Foothills Creamery with fond childhood memories of the brand.
“Like many people in Alberta, I grew up eating Foothills Creamery ice cream,” says Wegener. “Then I had the opportunity to join the marketing group in 2020, and I’ve been here for the last few years.”
Wegener works at Foothills Creamery today because of its founder Don Bayrack, who in the 1930s, worked at the Swift Plant Creamery located behind the Calgary Tower. It was his desire to save the factory he churned butter at, that started the Foothills Creamery legacy.
“Back in the 1930s there were about ninety-three creameries in Alberta, and those were slowly starting to close down and get consolidated,” says Wegener, “So [Don Bayrack] and his business partners founded Foothills Creamery by taking over [the Swift] plant in 1969, and we’ve been making butter, the same way, the old fashion way ever since.”
Foothills Creamery still makes their butter by slowly barrel churning cream until it contains over 80 per cent butter fat, and while some processes are too good to change, as agriculture has evolved, so too has the company’s relationship with its dairy farmers.
“In 1969 we were sending drivers to each individual dairy farm in Western Canada and filling up tiny little steel cans with cream,” says Wegener. “Today that process has evolved a little bit; we’re still sourcing all of our cream from Western Canadian dairy farms, but all of our cream comes from processors who separate the milk into cream and then we ship it in larger trucks to our facility.”
Butter isn’t the only tasty delight that Foothills Creamery makes from Western Canadian cream. The buttermilk that is produced as a by-product of churning butter, is now used to make the ice cream the company is so famous for.
“In 1986, we decided to use buttermilk to start making ice cream,” says Wegener. “The buttermilk helps give [the ice cream] a richer, smoother flavour. That buttermilk that had previously been going to waste, was [now] being used in our ice cream.”
Today Foothills Creamery offers over eighty flavours of ice cream in many different forms and sizes. While each individual has an opinion on what their favourite flavour is, there’s no denying there’s something for everyone. And with locations all over Western Canada, Foothills Creamery offers a wide range of ways to enjoy their products.
“There are flavours that are made for your local mom and pop’s scoop shops across Western Canada,” says Wegener. “We have retail-sized flavours, which are in 1.4 L, and we’ll be coming out with 500 mL soon. We [also] have soft serve mixes, which are used all over the place, even at the Calgary Saddledome.”
Foothills Creamery has even begun introducing some of their scoop shop flavours, like Tiger and Cotton Candy, into grocery stores. This exciting evolution has sparked a revamp of their packaging to include the ice cream cones so reminiscent of the scoop shop experience.
“For people to be able to get something that they usually can only get at scoop shops and bring that experience home, lots of people have been really excited,” says Wegener. “We updated our packaging to be a little more fun . . . and connect back to the scoop shops. It’s got this whole feeling of joyful nostalgia that helps people bring that scoop shop experience home.”
Memories of eating ice cream on a hot summer day or cooking delicious homemade meals with Foothills creamery butter, is only made possible by the dedicated staff that have spent years perfecting their craft.
“We have lots of people on the production floor that have become butter experts at barrel churning over decades and to see them still working and being passionate about what they’re making, whether it’s butter, ice cream, or soft serve, is really cool to see,” says Wegener. “It’s fun to see the product on shelves—something that I grew up loving—and [be] a part [of] sharing that with people across Western Canada. That’s really special.”
To learn more about Foothills Creamery, watch our interview with Scott Wegener here.
This has been a Home Grown segment, brought to you by connectFirst Credit Union, showcasing Alberta producers, artisans, and farming communities.