Kozy’s Pizza has been a hit with Wisconsin locals for more than 40 years. And thanks to an initiative by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, people across the country now know about the tasty treats at Kozy’s.
“Before the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program started, we couldn’t ship our product outside of Wisconsin,” says Cindy Olson, owner of Kozy’s. “The program eliminated this significant barrier to expansion and opened up so many opportunities that allowed our business to grow.”
That’s what the U.S. Department of Agriculture and department had in mind when they launched the program in 2013. It allows state- inspected meats from qualifying plants to be shipped across state lines. By creating a hybrid federal- state inspection process, the program ensures the safety of the product while opening up new markets.
“We jumped at the chance to participate in this program,” says Cindy Klug, director of the Bureau of Meat Safety at the department. “Wisconsin has a long heritage of meat production and processing, and this was an opportunity to share our great products with other states. It’s especially significant economically for smaller producers.”
That has been the case for Kozy’s. Where sales had been limited to their Mauston restaurant and grocery stores across Wisconsin, pizza lovers in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan can now heat up the oven and sink their teeth into a Kozy’s Deluxe. Olson says Kozy’s has gone from needing one truck to deliver its frozen pizzas to using 17 through a partnership with Holiday Wholesale. Even the varieties of pizza have grown, from eight before the program began to 14 today.
Currently, a dozen meat and poultry businesses across the state participate in the program, but Klug sees those numbers doubling in the near future.
“We are always getting inquiries from new producers, who see this as an important way to build their
business over time. It’s also a phenomenal program for those who sell to farmers markets, especially if they are located close to the state borders.”
Olson is proud that her state has been an early participant in the CIS program.
“The program has not only impacted my bottom line in a very positive way, but it also taught me a lot. The people who run it are so great in helping you get answers. I think it’s one more way that Wisconsin takes care of its businesses.”