American Made Cheese Outlook Good

Chuck Zimmerman

Wisconsin Milk Marketing BoardThe Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board says “there’s gold in American-made cheese.” They see the growth in American made specialty cheeses continuing.

The movement to artisan, farmstead, ethnic and organic type cheeses continues to gain strength, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), a dairy farmer-funded organization that promotes Wisconsin Cheese nationally. The board closely monitors and analyzes culinary and cheese trends. In Wisconsin, for example, specialty cheese production rose by 9 percent in 2004 to 331 million pounds. The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade found sales of specialty cheese were up 29.1 percent in 2004 from 2002, to $905 million, excluding sales of Wal-Mart.

The reason for their optimism is that not only do these cheeses taste good but they fit into many of the trends in food today like the desire for convenience. Along with their rosy outlook come some predictions for the future that include:

–Chefs will be offering cheese ice creams –and not just for dessert. Chef Seth Daugherty at Cosmos, Graves 601 Hotel in Minneapolis, enhances foie gras with Wisconsin Mascarpone and Maple Gelato. Chef Guillermo Pernot at ¡Pasion! in Philadelphia has developed a house-cured fresh tuna with Brick cheese spread ice cream.

–Supermarkets will feature ready-to-go cheese courses and wines for home entertaining, complete with cheese descriptions and “stories.”

–More cheeses will take on fanciful, one-of-a-kind names, a practice becoming common with American artisanal cheeses, such as Homestead and Pleasant Ridge Reserve, two recent Wisconsin award recipients from the American Cheese Society.

–Latin food will travel beyond Mexico. Fresh, milky cheeses, popular in Central and South American cuisines, will flourish. Restaurants will start the movement.

–Upscale restaurants will offer kids’ menus, and the cheese won’t be processed.

Cheese, Dairy Group