World Dairy Diary

Pepper Jack is Hot…and Spicy

The newest “it” cheese is Pepper Jack — Monterey Jack cheese blended with spicy peppers. Datassential, the restaurant market-research firm, reports that Pepper Jack as a menu offering on fast-food sandwiches has jumped more than 37% over the past four years

During that period, its availability as a menu offering on fast-food burgers has grown more than 56%. That’s why brand giants from Kraft to Kellogg to Blimpie are enamored.

Marketing gurus say that simply offering the cheese on restaurant menus can give a chain a competitive edge. “It’s one of the fastest-growing cheeses we’ve ever seen,” says Steve Evans, marketing vice president of Blimpie, which recently wrapped it into a turkey and chicken sub. And it’s shown up in nearly 50 other new consumer products over the past two years, reports research firm Datamonitor.

Among those pouring on the Pepper Jack:
•Blimpie. Since its promo began last month, sales of the cheese have doubled at Blimpie, Evans says. The key: Millennials love the stuff. “They tend to be more adventurous with what they put on a sandwich,” Evans says.
•Carl’s Jr. Sales of items with Pepper Jack cheese have nearly tripled over the past five years at the regional burger chain. In 2006, about 8% of all burgers sold at Carl’s Jr. included Pepper Jack cheese. Today, that figure tops 20%, and four menu items have Pepper Jack cheese, including the new Southwest Patty Melt, says Brad Haley, marketing chief.
•Kraft. Over the past six months, it’s rolled out three products made with Pepper Jack cheese, says spokeswoman Angela Wiggins.
•Blue Diamond. It rolled out Pepper Jack Nut Thins in September. “Increasing diversity in population is leading towards spicier ethnic flavors,” says Sara Holtberg, advertising and promotions manager for snacks at Blue Diamond Growers.
•Kellogg. It had to happen: Pepper Jack Cheez-Its.

Source: USA Today; Bruce Horovitz

New Mozzarella Plant to be Built in Idaho

The Lactalis American Group, a division of the French conglomerate Groupe Lactalis has announced plans to build a 61,300-square-foot plant that will produce fresh mozzarella in Nampa, Idaho. The plant will be operating by spring 2013.

“This is a great day for Lactalis, particularly for the Nampa team,” said Jean Paul Quiblier, vice president of manufacturing and purchasing for Lactalis American Group.

Fresh mozzarella is a relatively small sideline of the existing Nampa plant, with 40 workers producing around 7 million pounds of the cheese per year, officials said.

That output will increase to 40 million pounds per year of Galbani brand cheese when the new plant opens, taking on the existing 40 workers and hiring about 70 more, said Lenny Bass, who will manage the fresh mozzarella operation.

The existing plant will continue its focus on producing string cheese, plus bulk and shredded mozzarella, he said.

A $50 million whey-drying tower, completed in 2010, turns the liquid left over from cheese-making into a protein powder used in animal feed and protein drinks.

The existing plant goes through about 4.2 million pounds of milk a day, and about 80 percent comes from Treasure Valley dairies, other milk comes from the Magic Valley.

Source: Idaho Statesman; Kristin Rodine

Bel Brands to Build Plant in S.D.

Bel Brands USA will build a 170,000-square-foot facility in Brookings, S.D. to produce its Mini Babybel product.

It’s one of the biggest capital investments in recent South Dakota history, and expected to have a $500 million annual economic jolt. It’s also expected to lead to research, internship and career opportunities for South Dakota State University students, and bring alumni back to Brookings for jobs.

“Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Barry Dunn, dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. “This is jobs. It’s work experience. It’s internships … This will impact all of our students in a very positive way – open up opportunities for them. It’s an absolute game changer.”

Bel Brands, headquartered in Chicago, also produces The Laughing Cow cheese wedges, Boursin, Merkts, Kaukauna and other natural and gourmet cheese spreads. It’s the U.S. subsidiary of Paris-based Fromageries Bel and also has U.S.-based production facilities in Leitchfield, Ky., and Little Chute, Wis.

“We’ve been impressed with the state of South Dakota,” Chambers said. “The robust dairy industry that will provide raw materials, the economic development and support, and the world-class dairy facilities and dairy research (at SDSU). We think there’s great synergies and partnership possibilities in working with (SDSU).”

Bel Brands has more than doubled in size the past four years. Mini Babybel, which represents close to one-third of Bel Brands’ U.S. sales, has almost tripled with consistent 25 percent growth, Chambers said. Phase one of the project will have a production capacity of 22 million pounds or 10,000 metric tons.

Source: Arugus Leader

DFA Cheeses Win Recognition

Congratulations Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) for having five their cheese products earned recognition at the 2011 National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Championship Cheese Contest. The competition was held in conjunction with NMPF’s joint annual meeting with National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and United Dairy Industry Association.

NMPF’s contest serves as a platform for cooperatives from across the country to showcase their top products and recognize the individuals who make them. The annual event was the first cheese competition that utilized grading standards to improve cheese quality, and to display such quality in a competitive forum. This year’s competition drew nearly 150 entries, and cheese entered in the contest was served at a reception during the annual meeting.

“It is an honor to have our cheeses recognized among entries from such fine organizations,” said Mark Korsmeyer, president of DFA’s Global Dairy Products Group and executive vice president of DFA. “This recognition demonstrates that all plant employees are working hard to ensure excellence in our products every day.”

Awards were presented for the following products:
Best Italian — DFA Provolone, New Wilmington, Pa.
First Place, Soft Italian — DFA Provolone, New Wilmington, Pa.
Second Place, Processed American Flavored — Borden® Cheese Singles Sensations Hickory Smoked Swiss, Plymouth, Wis.
Second Place, Open Class — La Vaquita Queso Fresco Mexicano, Houston, Texas
Third Place, Open Class — La Vaquita Queso Panela Fresca, Houston, Texas

Source: Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.

Domino’s Revamps Cheesy Bread

Domino Pizza has introduced a new variation of an existing product, cheesy bread. The newly remodeled cheesy bread will now be available in three temping tastes, spinach and feta, bacon and jalapeno and cheese only.

“Consumers’ palates are evolving to these kinds of tastes, and they’re not once-in-a-while things anymore,” said Domino’s CMO Russell Weiner, referring to ingredients such as spinach and feta. “When we looked to develop these we wanted to appeal to the broadest customer base. We wanted gourmet, and we wanted to have people like it.”

The hope, Mr. Weiner said, is that the new product, along with the artisan pizza line it unveiled earlier this fall, will generate interest in the chain’s standard pizza as well.

A national TV campaign from CP&B, Boulder, Colo.,will begin airing Nov. 28 and include Domino’s execs Brandon Solano, who recently became VP-franchise development, along with Tate Dillow, program leader-product research and development. In the ad they talk about how “under-cheesing” has swept the industry.

“In this economy, things are bad, people are cutting budgets,” said Mr. Weiner. “The normal thing to do is raise prices and reduce quality. We’re making a purposeful effort to be on the side of consumers. We could take cheese out, but we put more cheese in and added more gourmet-type flavors.”

Source: Advertising Age

Cheese Most Stolen Item

This has been getting a lot of press: according to the U.K.’s Center for Retail Research, cheese is the most stolen food in the world! Retailers report 4% of cheese stolen a year.

The group surveyed 1,187 retailers representing more than 250,000 retail outlets across 43 countries.

“The biggest threats for retailers are employees and shoplifters,” said Dr. Joshua Bamfield, Director of the Center for Retail Research in a phone interview with The Huffington Post.

With the price of cheese rising, Bamfield says this is far from surprising given it could be seen as “a lucrative business opportunity for small time criminals.”

“It’s not just grannies saying, I need some cheese I’ll just go and steal it. A lot of the theft is for resale and a lot of this cheese will be resold into other markets or to restaurants.”

Other “high risk” foods to make the most stolen food list include fresh meat, chocolate, alcohol, seafood and infant formula.

Either way, theft is a growing concern for retailers, especially since the annual amount of stolen retail goods increased by 6.6% since June 2010. But theft also adds to the global average family grocery shopping bill by an extra $200. In the U.S., that figure was $435, noted the report.

Source: The Huffington Post

Cheese Chef Demonstration at World Dairy Expo

His motto is “Have Cheese, Will Travel” but Cheese Chef John Esser doesn’t have to travel very far to showcase his culinary skills at World Dairy Expo each year, since he is based right there in Madison, Wisconsin.

John has been an independent consultant to cheese manufacturers and dairy industry organizations, including the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, for the last 18 years and he really knows his cheese! He is especially talented when it comes to pairing the distinctive flavors of various cheeses with other foods that make your taste buds do the tango.

At the expo Talk Session for the media this year, John grilled up some cheese and turkey sandwiches, featuring Big Ed’s Gouda from Saxony Creamery. He also torched a Gruyère-topped crouton and added that to a French onion soup.

Watch Chef John demonstrate his recipes and show off some of the cheese pairings on display. For great cheese recipes, check out

2011 World Dairy Expo Photo Album

World Dairy Expo coverage sponsored by Charleston Orwig Dairy Business Association Alltech Hoard’s Dairyman Accelerated Genetics

Crave Brothers Unveils Green Cow Label

Crave Brothers is promoting their commitment to the environment and renewable energy on the farm and in the farmstead cheese factory with a newly unveiled logo.

The new Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese logo features a dairy cow inside a green circle with the words “Produced with Renewable Energy.”

In producing their family of award-winning artisan cheeses, the Crave Brothers use 100% green power, and practice water conservation and recycling. Their commitment is evident in their land management practices and in the way they care for their cows. As a carbon-negative company, they produce more electricity with their bio digester generator than they use for their dairy farm and cheese plant. Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese goes one step further, too, inviting customers to join them in the quest for sustainability by reusing and recycling the cheese packaging. Customers can find this new logo on their cheese packages later in the year.

Crave Brothers Cheeses are created at a farmstead cheese factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin “where state-of-the-art technology promotes sustainability while maintaining traditional quality.”

WMMB Introduces Cheese Pairing App

Have an iPhone? Love cheese? Then download this app pronto!

What cheese goes with your wine? What beer goes with your cheese? These questions can finally be answered with Wisconsin Cheese Cupid. With this handy dandy iPhone and iPod Touch application, pairing a cheese with a like-minded beverage has never been easier or more fun. Bon appétit.

• Pairs wine, beer, and liquor with appropriate cheeses.
• Filters by beverage category (e.g., Red Wine) and beverage style (e.g., Merlot).
• Offers correct pronunciation of every cheese, beer, wine, and liquor.
• Cheese selector spotlights appropriate Wisconsin Cheese.
• Includes culinary information about selected Wisconsin Cheese.

Source: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Summer Strawberry Delight is Cheese Recipe Winner

Summer’s not over yet, there’s still time to enjoy this Summer Strawberry Delight dessert recipe featuring Crave Brothers Mascarpone Cheese that recently won first place in the Second Annual Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese Recipe Contest.

Creative cooks from three states entered the contest, which was held on August 11 at the Waterloo Farmer’s Market. Deb Dunstan of Deerfield, Wisconsin, was named Grand Prize Winner for her Summer Strawberry Delight dessert that includes fresh strawberries and a creamy Mascarpone cheese and strawberry mixture in the cake batter.

Linda Jennissen of Brooten, Minnesota, won the Main Dish category with her Farmers Rope® of Pearls Pizza. Crave Brothers Farmer’s Rope-Part Skim Mozzarella was incorporated into the edge of the unbaked pizza dough, and toppings included Crave Brothers Marinated Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Pearls.

Rick Karlin of Chicago took top honors in the Side Dish category with Spinach Artichoke Mashed Potatoes. The recipe evolved out of an improvisation on Christmas Day, stirring leftover Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Christmas Eve into Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes. The cheese-rich dip recipe combines Crave Brothers Mascarpone and Crave Brothers Les Frères® cheeses.

Randy Hughes of Waterloo, Wisconsin, created the attractive winner in the Appetizer category—Fresh Mozzarella with Balsamic Drizzle and Walnuts. The stacked ingredients included sliced Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella balls and sliced tomatoes, drizzled with balsamic reduction sauce and topped with fresh basil, dried cranberries and candied walnuts.

Find out more here.

Seymour Expands

Seymour Dairy Products, one of the largest blue cheese producers in the United States, celebrated its second expansion in its six-year existence.

“Quite an undertaking for a small company like ours,” said Michael Brennenstuhl, the President and CEO of Seymour Dairy Products. “We aren’t a big corporate entity.”

The company’s $2.5 million expansion brought Governor Scott Walker to Seymour.

“The number one reason why they are growing and why we’ve seen in the last five years about a $2.5 billion investment in our dairy industry is because the quality stands out on a worldwide basis,” said Walker.

“This expansion opens doors for us to expand to many different areas of the blue cheese segment of sales in the United States,” said Brennenstuhl.

Seymour Dairy Products officials say adding 11,000 square feet to its facility should help with the growing demand for specialty cheeses. At this pace, they say another expansion could be needed in the future.

Company officials say while the expansion has meant more automation to its cheese-making process, it has not meant the loss of any employees. They say the expansion could bring an additional six to eight jobs to the plant in the coming years.

Source: Fox Online; Reporter: Ben Krumholz

Crave Brothers Mascarpone Wins First in Competition

Crave Brothers award-winning Mascapone cheese just keeps winning!

Back in March, the classic fresh, sweet cheese earned its 20th honor with 2nd place in the Open Class Soft Cheese category at the 2011 United States Championship Cheese Contest.

This time, they took First Place in the 2011 American Cheese Society (ACS) Conference and Competition. In the same competition, Crave Brothers Petit Frère® Reserve was awarded Third Place in the Farmstead Cheeses category. Competing products in this category are made with milk from herds on the same farm where the cheese is produced. Petit Frère® (“little brother” in French) is the 8-oz. version of the 2-pound wheel of Les Frères® rind-washed European-style cheese. Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics are made with vegetarian rennet and BGH-free milk from the Crave Brothers Dairy Farm.

The 2011 competition was held during the 29th Annual American Cheese Society Conference in Montreal. This year, a record number of 1,676 entries competed for awards. All told, cheese and cultured milk products were submitted from 258 companies in the U.S. and Canada.

Indiana Dairy Council Unveils Cheese Sculpture

The Dairy & Nutrition Council of Indiana, Inc. and the American Dairy Association of Indiana have unveiled a 1,400 pound cheese sculpture commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Dairy & Nutrition Council. Created by Sarah Kaufmann, the sculpture will be on display from August 5-21 at the “Our Land Pavilion” at the Indiana State Fair. Watch the video below to see the cheese sculpture from start to finish!

Source: Winners Drink Milk!

Wis. Leading Cheese Production

Wisconsin has kept its place atop the cheese world, with production for 2010 once again leading the nation.

Total cheese production for the state was 2.61 billion pounds, up from 2.59 billion pounds the previous year, according the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Wisconsin’s production led California, which produced 2.2 billion pounds. The state has been the U.S.’s leading cheese producer since the USDA began tracking the statistics in 1975.

While Wisconsin leading the nation in cheese production is kind of a dog-bites-man level of news, the shape of that production continues to evolve.

Specialty cheese production rose 10 percent in the state, with those category of cheeses accounting for 21 percent (552 million pounds) of the state’s production.

“You’re really seeing the category take shape with some new players,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. “You’re seeing it’s an attractive industry for investment and that’s a different story than it was 20 years ago.”

Specialty cheeses are value-added products that command a higher price. They include blue, feta, Hispanic types, specialty mozzarella and provolone and Parmesan Wheel were the state’s most widely produced specialty cheeses.

Umhoefer said recent business moves bear out the increased interest in specialty cheese. Last year, Agropur, Canada’s largest dairy cooperative, completed its acquisition of Little Chute-based Trega foods. Earlier this year, Saputo, a Montreal-based cheese manufacturer with three Wisconsin plants, announced plans to acquire DCI Cheese Co. of Richfield, Wis. DCI is a major specialty cheese marketer in the U.S.

While those are large producers, Umhoefer credited the state’s artisanal cheesemakers for the growth in specialty cheese, too.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal
“They’re driving the message and they’ve been pushing the new types,” Umhoefer said. “That’s important, too. You need the vanguard.”

Learn More about Hispanic Cheese

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, and cheese is the perfect way to celebrate the day!

With so many Hispanic cheeses to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming to know which to select and what the proper usage is for home cooking. The California Milk Advisory Board makes it easy with an at-a-glance tip sheet on Hispanic cheeses found online and recipes for using these delicious ingredients at home. Try your hand at infusing your next fiesta or gathering with Latin flair with this recipe that features a classic Hispanic cheese in an updated savory version of a traditional dish. Oaxaca French Toast with Salsa offers a large quantity size recipe that is perfect for in-home celebrations, such as Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Mother’s Day brunch, graduation fiestas or the family barbecue.

From Manchego and Queso Freso to Cotija and Oaxaca, you don’t have to get on a plane to explore the flavors of Mexico. Hispanic dairy products are designed to add flavor, salt and in some cases, cooling properties to the fiery flavors often associated with Latino cuisine. Try crema tossed with your favorite fruit for a light and tangy salad. Calcium-rich drinkable yogurts in flavors like Mango and Pineapple are an easy, portable way to add a delicious tropical Latin flavor to your diet. Real California dairy products, including Hispanic cheeses and dairy products such as drinkable yogurt and crema, are distributed throughout California and nationally.

Source: California Milk Advisory Board

Grilled Cheese!

Today is one of the best days of the year – National Grilled Cheese Day! Did you have a grilled cheese today? Or, do you need inspiration for a new recipe? If so, check out this collection of recipes from the Huffington Post; or add your own favorite recipe!

The best thing about grilled cheese? Almost anyone can make one, all you really need is bread, cheese and something to heat it up on. It’s even easy to add your own spin, whether it be meat, vegetables, or good old-fashioned spice.

We’ve compiled some of the tastiest-looking grilled cheeses below, each with its own twist on the classic simple sandwich. However, our list isn’t all-encompassing, so if you’ve got a cheese creation that you think could top the list, add it!

Source: The Huffington Post; By: Dean Praetorius
Photo by: Maggie Hoffman

Crave Brothers Mascarpone Takes Award

Congratulations to the Crave Brothers for several recent awards for their farmstead cheeses!

The Crave Brothers award-winning Mascarpone has just earned its twentieth honor. In March, judges at the 2011 United States Championship Cheese Contest recognized Crave Brothers Mascarpone with the Second Place Award in the Open Class Soft Cheeses Category. With 98.85 points, Crave Brothers Mascarpone was the highest-scoring Mascarpone in the contest. Mascarpone, with its rich and creamy profile, is ideal for desserts, and can be mixed with whipped cream to use as a dip for fresh fruits.

In the Smear-Ripened Semi-Soft Cheeses Category, Crave Brothers Les Frères took the Third Place Honors. The rich rind-washed cheese is characterized by its earthy, fruity flavor. Les Frères makes a simple yet sensational presentation when served with fruits, bread and wine. This is the eleventh award the cheese has received.

The Crave Brothers—Charles, George, Tom and Mark— produce their artisan quality cheese at a farmstead cheese factory on their state-of-the-art family farm. The farm emphasizes conservation and sustainable practices.

The 2011 United States Championship Cheese Contest is the largest dairy product competition in the U.S. The competition boasts a 120-year history, dating back to the first Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association contest in 1891. This year’s competition, held in Green Bay, Wis., drew 1,602 entries from 30 states.

Source: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, LLC

Saputo to Acquire U.S. Cheese Company

Canadian cheese maker Saputo Inc. will acquire the parent company of DCI Cheese Co Inc, one of the largest U.S. specialty cheese marketers, for $270.5 million to expand its presence in the lucrative market.

DCI’s product portfolio includes more than 100 types of specialty cheeses. It sells products under brand names such as County Line, Great Midwest, Joan of Arc and King’s Choice.

DCI, which employs about 475 people, recorded sales of $460 million in 2010.

The deal is expected to close in March.

Fairmount Cheese Holdings Inc is DCI’s parent.

Source: Reuters
Reporting by S. John Tilak, editing by Gerald E. McCormick

American Cheese Companies Agree to Reduce Sodium

A meeting hosted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, American cheese companies agreed to step up efforts to reduce the sodium content in cheese and educate consumers about the limits of sodium reduction.

The 17 leading cheese firms, including the likes of Chr Hansen, Kraft Foods and Cargill, discussed the key challenges and opportunities related to sodium reduction. The companies are working pre-competitively on best practice to reduce sodium levels through formulation as well as process and manufacturing control.

Some companies have already begun to reduce sodium levels with the launch of new reduced sodium cheeses and others are making reductions across product lines. However, there is currently no move to introduce industry-wide targets.

Carol Blindauer, SVP, health and wellness, at the Innovation Center told this publication: “While a variety of individual cheese manufacturers or multi-food companies who make cheese may have committed to a targets approach to sodium reduction for their products, the industry at large is not adopting a targets approach.”

Blindauer said this is because cheese is not one single food for which a blanket sodium target would be appropriate. Swiss cheese, for example, is naturally low in sodium so there would be little merit in making cuts that would be particularly difficult to achieve without compromising on taste or risking food safety.

The industry spokesperson said sodium plays a vital role in cheese making for flavour, moisture, versatility and even food safety. Salt is a natural preservative that is not easy to replace without resorting to artificial alternatives that many consumers prefer to stay away from.

The cheese companies are agreed that more work is needed on a marketing level to put these points to the consumer. At the meeting of the task force on sodium in cheese the companies agreed that more education work was needed to inform the consumer about the nutrients in cheese, the role of sodium in cheese and the work that has already been done on sodium reduction.

The companies are also looking to establish more clearly where the industry is as far as sodium reduction is concerned. Blindauer said a marketplace analysis has been completed and is pending publication.

She said: “Understanding where we are as an industry is the first step to being a part if the solution to addressing sodium and cheese.”

Companies involved in the Best Practices Task Force on sodium reduction include: Bongards, Cargill, Chr Hansen, Dairy Farmers of America, Davisco Foods, Foremost Farms, Glanbia, Great Lakes Cheese, Kraft Foods, Kroger, Lactalis, Land O’Lakes, Leprino Foods, Marathon Cheese, Sargento, Schreiber Foods and V&V Supremo Foods.

Source: Dairy Reporter

Domino’s Introduces Six Cheese Pizza

Cheese, six different delicious types, will be the showcase of Domino’s Pizza newest addition to its line-up.

The Wisconsin 6 Cheese is the first extension to the American Legends specialty pizza line, which showcases iconic tastes from across the country. The pie features tomato sauce and a blend of six cheeses: mozzarella, feta, provolone, cheddar, parmesan and asiago, according to a company statement.

As with last fall’s pizza overhaul, the new product also will usher in new TV spots. The national advertising campaign, which began Oct. 13, aims to show consumers the true source of the 100 percent real cheeses used on all Domino’s Pizza products.

Shot on location in Blanchardville, Wis., the campaign focuses on the source of Domino’s cheese – America’s dairy farms. In the spots, real consumers thinking they are attending a focus group are shocked when the “office building” walls collapse, revealing they are actually in the middle of a dairy farm. The campaign will include a social media component and an interactive site called “Behind the Pizza.

McIntyre said the introduction of the Wisconsin 6 Cheese pizza is focused on two things: First, the company wanted to add to its popular American Legends line of premium pizzas. Second, the product is being launched as part of Domino’s partnership with Dairy Management Inc., the association that represents America’s dairy farmers.

“This is one way that we can support dairy farms across the country: by selling a pizza featuring an abundance of their products,” he said. “We think that’s a good thing.”

Source: Pizza

Photo Source: The Washington Post – Photo provided by Domino’s Pizza Inc. (AP Photo/Domino’s Pizza Inc.) NO SALES (AP)

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