By Delaney Oser
Does asking your customers to bring reusable shopping bags with them to your store change their shopping behaviors in other ways? It turns out that it does, especially if customers have the choice about whether they do that or not.
The question was the subject of a recent study by Harvard Business School consumer behavior researcher Uma Karmakar and Bryan Bollinger, a researcher from Duke Fuqua School of Business. They used loyalty card data from a single California location of a major grocery chain and a set of their own experiments to demonstrate that shoppers who bring their own shopping bags to the grocery store are more likely to buy organic products as well as those considered indulgences, which includes products like candy, ice cream and snack chips. “Asking customers to bring their own bags introduces a new element. You’re asking customers to change their routine for a good reason. We were curious about whether asking people to add something new to something that they’re very familiar with could create a ripple effects, or changes in their decisions,” Karmarkar said.
The researchers began their study by speculating that the act of bringing reusable bags along to the grocery store might prime shoppers to behave virtuously, and they might express that by taking other positive environmental actions, such as choosing organic produce over nonorganics. They also speculated that, if customers took an action they considered virtuous – bringing their own bags to the store – they might then feel that they had earned themselves a little treat, and that might make them more likely to toss a candy bar or a carton of ice cream into their baskets. “The psychological effect is called licensing. If you do something virtuous in one area of your life, you might feel licensed to do something indulgent in another area of your life,” Karmarkar said. That led them to another question: Does it make a difference if the customers bring their own bags of their own volition or because store policy requires them to do so?
The researches found that customers who bring along their own bags are more likely to buy organic products if they’re available and if the price difference between organic and nonorganic products is not large. “The higher the prices, the less likely it is that bringing your bags will result in a different purchase,” Karmarkar said. “People aren’t suddenly going to run out and purchase a huge box of expensive truffles merely because they brought their bags. They’re still sensitive to prices.”
Customers who bring their own bags are also more likely to buy indulgent products like candy and snack chips, but only if they brought bags because they chose to do so rather than as a result of a store policy requiring them to do so. Karmarkar and Bollinger suggest that that’s because there may be a different psychology involved in the decision to buy the candy bar than in the decision to buy the organic apples. “In the case of organic items, our proposed psychology is that bringing the bag primes the customers with the reminder to take green actions. That might not change if the supermarket makes the rules,” Karmarkar said. “For indulgences, if consumers know that they’re bringing a bag because of the requirements of the store, we don’t see the same effect.”
The takeaway from the study for grocery retailers is that changes in store policies can have unexpected ripple effects, and that’s something to think about while planning the change, according to Karmarkar. “It’s useful to know that applying this kind of policies can have broader effects across the store. When a store enacts a policy, depending on the way they enact it, there can be downstream effects,” she said. “There are some interesting questions about environmental promotions – the store might consider enforcing that in a positive way. If your consumers are bringing their own bags, you might highlight the organic and environmental offerings in messaging and promotions. Because these effects for indulgences are conditional on the way the policies are implemented, the takeaway is that there may be different patterns in the way that consumers address impulse items or desserts in the store.”
By Micah Cheek
With gluten free diets making headlines, food companies are putting more focus than ever on their wheat free alternative products. Irene Gottesman, Director of Marketing and Sales at Blends by Orly, credits the shift to the new availability of gluten allergy testing, which has led to children being tested earlier in life. She adds, “When one child is gluten free, often the whole family becomes gluten free.” Parents will start consuming gluten free products make sure their child doesn’t have to eat a different meal than the rest of the family. An added benefit to this is a greater ease in meal planning. This increased consumption has placed gluten free breads, cookies and pastas side by side with their wheat filled counterparts in grocery aisles.
The pre-made foods being produced are a great help to people with gluten sensitivities or allergies, but they still suffer some significant shortfalls. The shelf life of unfrozen gluten free baked goods is generally shorter than baked goods with wheat. This causes many baked goods to come out of their package already stale. Some companies have to resort to using more preservatives to maintain shelf stability. Flavor and texture issues have also cast a bad light on the gluten free market, and discriminating consumers are now driving demand for products that match or exceed the palatability of wheat based baked goods. Rivaling wheat products is where baking mixes most stand out from other gluten free products. Janine Somers, Director of Marketing at Stonewall Kitchen, says, “Using high quality ingredients and never sacrificing on taste, we develop our gluten free products with the same standards we use for every other Stonewall Kitchen product. Quality and flavor are never compromised.” Due to the popularity of these mixes, gluten free recipes from pizza crust to doughnuts are now being offered. The homemade aspect of these products offers a greater sense of quality and freshness. “Since everything at Stonewall Kitchen starts and ends with quality, we believe the rise in this category for us in particular is due to the fact that our gluten free products are just as tasty and satisfying as our traditional mixes,” Somers says.
The ability to replicate the texture and flavor of wheat based products is determined by the careful mixing of different flours. As the market for gluten free flour blends and baking mixes grows, producers are trying new combinations of grains and starches in an effort to more accurately replicate wheat’s behaviors. Somers says, “While most mixes use potato, rice and tapioca flours, developers are looking at oats which also offer a nutritional quality. Another trend in mix development is the use of bean flours and other grains such as sorghum, chia and millet, which are being used in a combination with other gluten free flours.” Blends by Orly has a collection of flour blends which are designed as one to one wheat flour substitutes in any recipe, rather than a single product mix. “The reason we’re able to say it rivals wheat products,” says Gottesman, “Is because we tested them against wheat recipes.” Blends by Orly baked classic recipes with their flours, taste testing them on people who regularly ate gluten. This helped to eventually match the familiar qualities of the original product.
The emotional motivator for making gluten-free products at home comes from how customers feel they are perceived personally. Buying gluten free products can make consumers feel like their eating habits or restrictions are on display. Gluten free packaging is often distinct from other packages, and is marketed primarily for health rather than flavor. Gottesman says, “When you’re buying something for a dietary issue, you don’t want to feel like you’re in a pharmacy all the time.”
For more from Gourmet News on gluten-free eating, visit here.
Each batch of Appel Farms cheese is made in the traditional manner using milk from the farm’s own herd of dairy cows. Appel Farms was founded 35 years ago by Jack Appel, who was trained in Europe and brought those cheesemaking skills with him to the U.S. Today, his son, John Appel, takes the milk fresh from the cow and makes artisan cheese just as his father taught him. Controlling the process from the milk source to the finished product ensures consistent quality and flavor, and John strives to maintain that consistency in the cheese while improving efficiency in the process and adding to the line of cheeses.
Appel Farms Gouda has a creamy, buttery texture and nutty flavor. Varieties include Smoked, Mild, Jalapeno, and Sweet Red Pepper. Appel Farms cheeses are available in retail as well as restaurant and food service sizes.
For more information about Appel Farms, call 360.384.4996, email email@example.com or visit www.appel-farms.com.
By Dave Bernard
Once a cheese of last resort for those intolerant or allergic to cow dairy products, goat cheese has grown in popularity in the last 15 years to achieve mainstream status. With many chefs preferring the bright, tangy flavor of fresh chèvre over creamier cow’s milk cheese varieties, goat cheese is “here to stay,” according to Lynne Devereux, Marketing Manager at Laura Chenel’s Chevre.
The rise of goat cheese involves a confluence of factors, from consumer hunger for more healthful foods to the desire for local and artisan products, a taste-adventurous Millennial-generation consumer group along with increasingly knowledgeable and flavor-seeking consumers in all categories, to the goat dairy industry’s dedication of more resources to education.
Goat cheese’s increasing popularity among American consumers is attributed to pioneering chef Alice Waters, who co-founded the Farm to Table movement of the 1980s and, working with Laura Chenel, intoduced diners at her Chez Panisse restaurant to goat cheese-inspired dishes. The news about goat cheese spread from there. “A lot of famous chefs worked at her restaurant first, and they went on to open restaurants across the country,” explained Jennifer Lynn Bice, CEO and President of Sebastopol, California’s Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery. “Diners would enjoy these wonderful goat cheese dishes, and then go into stores looking for the cheese; and from there it just mushroomed all around the country.”
While consumers came for the flavor and bright white, clean appearance of goat cheese, they stayed for the health benefits. Goat dairy products often work for those with lactose intolerance, and they contain a different saturated fat composition from that found incow’s milk. And it’s also higher in calcium, vitamin A and often protein. Some varieties contain just a third of the fat and calories of cow’s milk cheese. goat cheese got a hoof in the door, and to grow the category.
While the cream cheese-like fresh chèvre, popular in baking and cooking, leads the category, an increasing number of small and some large producers have developed more and varied, quality cheeses, with producers like Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery offering unique varieties like Roasted Chile, Three Peppercorn and Garlic Chive chevres.
Producers have also developed harder, aged cheeses more conducive to snacking, sandwich topping and other uses. Cypress Grove Chevre of Arcata, California, partners with a Dutch cheesemaker to produce the dense and chewy Midnight Moon, a Gouda-type cheese boasting a brown buttery flavor with caramel undertones. Laura Chenel’s Chevre’s rich and nutty Tome is a pale ivory, firm cheese that slices and grates easily; and Redwood Hill Farm’s offerings include Aged Cheddar and Smoked Cheddar.
“When I first started here 15 years ago, we were trying to convince people that goats gave milk,” said Lynne Devereux. “So the trajectory in the last 15 years has been fantastic.”
By Micah Cheek
Like most new things in Chicago, Greg Laketek is on his way up. In the two years since Laketek’s West Loop Salumi opened, his client list has ballooned with the names of heavy hitting businesses. “There were always dreams of serving the customers we have,” says Laketek, “We never expected them to seek us out.” Among those seekers are famed restaurants such as Alinea and Nomi, as well as high profile market retailers, including Eataly NYC. Fueled by the stunning endorsements of traveling chefs, West Loop meats are finding their way into culinary hot spots from San Diego to Boca Raton.
Laketek, 29, opened West Loop Salumi in 2013 after spending four years training under master salumiere Massimo Spigaroli. At Spigaroli’s Antica Corte Pollavicina in Polesine Parmense, he learned the craft of curing and preserving meats with an eye for quality ingredients and Old World techniques. Laketek even took part in the processing of the British royal family’s prized Berkshire hogs. When he returned to his home town of Chicago, he saw that these traditional Italian salamis were in nowhere to be found. “I noticed in Chicago, not many people are doing salumi and charcuterie; it seemed like a good market to get into.” he says. West Loop Salumi began with a small crew and no safety net. Laketek recalls, “Last year we had a flood because we had a frozen pipe. We ended up losing about $140,000 in product. That was our first eight months, we only had three employees, and our products weren’t covered in the insurance. It was a big hit to us.” The flooded shop could not stop the flood of praise, however, and West Loop rebounded to even more critical success. Zagat has since included Laketek in its “30 under 30 2014” list, as well as “11 Chicago Food Artisans to Watch.”
West Loop Salumi takes its name from the neighborhood it occupies, a formerly industrial area that is now a dining and art hot spot. The neighborhood’s rebirth as a fine food and leisure hub, though beneficial to the city, is not without its consequences. Greg says, “West Loop was the butchering and packing area of Chicago. It’s really dying though, now this area is called Restaurant Row, there are only a few butcher shops left here. It’s really a shame. Hotels and restaurants are coming in and raising the rent.” A particular loss, Greg says, is the redevelopment of the Fulton Cold Storage building, which had operated for over 90 years. “They took all the old signage down. Google is using the building. The insulation was all horse hair; it took four months to defrost the place.”
From the start, buyers could tell something was different about West Loop’s wares. Laketek believes the contrast lies in how other American processors make charcuterie, compared to how he was trained in Italy. “Producers out here don’t understand how to make the salumi we’re making,” he says. The difference can be seen especially well in meats like culatello, a whole muscle ham cured in wine, salt and pepper for more than 12 months, which West Loop makes in the Italian style. “The thing about culatello is you can’t import it, it’s not available in the US. We’re now doing the culatello the way they did, but not many others can,” Laketek says. He found that he could avoid using nitrite, a commonly used preservative for cured meat products, in his culatello by aging it even longer, up to 16 months. This keen knowledge of the curing process sets his products apart from his competitors. “They’re cutting corners they don’t even know they’re cutting. It’s about attention to detail,” he says.
Attention to detail goes hand in hand with the extremely high quality ingredients that West Loop starts with. Berkshire and Iberian pork are heavily used, as are fresh Calabrian peppers. Laketek takes special pride in his braseola, which he formerly made with pasture-raised, grass-fed beef. “We’ve switched to just using wagyu now. We are the only producer in the US that’s allowed to make bresaola without spraying any bleach on it. We use the acidity of white wine vinegar to make it stable.”
While the lowlands of Parma are ideal for the dry curing of specialty pork, the environment of Chicago doesn’t lend itself to the process. The chill and humidity of the Midwest would make traditional open air curing impossible if not for West Loop’s state of the art curing chambers. A constantly operating computer carefully balances the humidity and heat needed to promote the right bacterial cultures and drying times.
Laketek is bucking an old trend in American eating. When looking for salami, the American diner has an expectation of glossy, razor thin slices with a distinctly chewy quality. West Loop teaches a different lesson. The texture of its product is notably soft, even delicate. The casing must be gently removed to avoid taking bits of pork with it. Portions are cut in a thick wedge, similar to a serving of cheese. The thin slices are all pieces of whole muscles, cut against the grain.
Having proven himself in classic ciauscolos and sopprassetas, Laketek has begun to try new things. His Lagunitas IPA salame features not only the hoppy beer, but toasted spent grains from brewing as well. The Finnochiona is dusted with fennel pollen before aging. The Krug Champagne and Truffle is as decadent as it sounds; finely aged Krug Grande Cuvee adds flavors of sweet barley, and pieces of Alba black truffles are hidden throughout. “A chef needs to start out with a basis of how to make the basics. You can’t just say ‘I have a crazy idea, let’s put Sriracha and plum wine into a salami,’ without any background,” Laketek says.
The USDA has declared Laketek’s salamis completely shelf stable. They travel well too, as the meats are packed with degassers and deoxygenizers. For the retail market, Laketek has a few tips for care and handling. “For salami, we just recommend they don’t keep them in the fridge or deli case. Those cases have a lot of moisture in them. Salami breathes, just like bread. We recommend taking it out of the package, letting it hang and do its thing.”
Foster Farms has released survey findings measuring Millennial’s attitudes towards food issues, grocery purchasing behavior and preferences. The 2015 data reveals that Millennial parents are driving the tidal shift in consumer demand for responsibly raised products and are largely influenced by traditional family values and peer/community feedback when making household food decisions. While availability and pricing are cited as potential challenges, nearly one-third of respondents consider “organic” or “no antibiotics” to be the most important factor in choosing fresh chicken.
Conducted in 2015, the survey of 1,872 West Coast Millennial parents found that once Millennials have children, traditional family values and peer/community influence are the primary factors influencing everything from grocery purchases to cooking and consumption habits – with 74 percent reporting their criteria has changed “a lot”due to these factors. Millennials report their purchasing standards for fresh chicken differ significantly from their parents or previous generations. Yet, while demand for these products is at an all-time high, West Coast consumers report confusion on labeling terms and perceive these products to be niche in category.
The independent survey conducted by MetrixLab also found that 85 percent of Millennial parents indicated that their criteria for buying meat and poultry has changed over the last several years; 42 percent cited having a child as the primary reason, while 32 percent credit becoming more educated on how food is produced. More than three quarters of Millennial parents surveyed agreed that they are much more concerned than their parents’ generation about chemicals, antibiotics and ingredients used to produce food, while 78 percent say they are more concerned than their parents’ generation about nutrition. Use of antibiotics in meat and poultry production (54 percent), hormones and steroids in meats, poultry or dairy products (60 percent) and food safety (68 percent) are the top three food issues that survey participants were very concerned about. Nearly four out of five of them said that buying humanely raised meat and poultry is more important to them now than it was in the past, and 81 percent of those surveyed agreed that they try to buy poultry that is raised in their state.
Four out of five respondents cook dinner at home four or more nights per week, and nearly half of respondents cited family members as having the greatest influence on cooking habits. Most said that when making decisions about the food they feed their families they rely on information from friends and family to help inform those decisions (versus expert chefs, cookbooks, blogs, and other influencers in the food category).
Overall, the survey found that West Coast Millennial parents are actively seeking more antibiotic-free and organic options, with “no antibiotics” and “organic” rank among the top three fresh chicken purchase drivers among those surveyed. However, many consumers are still uncertain of what these terms actually mean: 42 percent of those surveyed who occasionally or always purchase antibiotic-free poultry are still at least somewhat confused about the term “antibiotic-free poultry,” while 37 percent of respondents are either unsure or do not understand what “certified organic” means when it comes to poultry.
“This survey aligns with our own data emphasizing the overwhelming demand for organic products and need for more education about labeling,” noted Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “While the largest sector of organic growth is in fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry products are the next frontier for significant adoption. Foster Farms’ entry is an important step in providing greater access to USDA certified organic poultry products in mainstream grocery stores.”
Price is also perceived as a barrier to widespread adoption of antibiotic-free and organic poultry: 75 percent of West Coast Millennials view antibiotic-free chicken as expensive. Nonetheless, a significant proportion of consumers are willing to spend more: while 87 percent of those surveyed report concern about the cost of food, nearly a quarter (23 percent) said they have purchased organic chicken three or more times out of their past five purchases. In fact, 82 percent of those surveyed who purchase organic chicken do so for a routine family dinner, as opposed to a special occasion.
Availability is a priority for many of those surveyed: 60 percent believe antibiotic-free chicken is hard to find. Many consumers say it is extremely difficult to make several different grocery stops. An overwhelming majority – 94 percent – of West Coast Millennial parents agree they want as many product choices in the supermarket as possible, with 56 percent preferring to make one stop for all groceries. For many respondents, the societal expectation to choose organic foods is unsettling: 59 percent of those surveyed report feeling scrutinized over their food choices, with 29 percent feeling pressure to say they purchase organic foods often, even when they do not.
“Consumers expect a new generation of responsibly raised poultry and meat products,” said Ira Brill, Foster Farms Director of Communications. “Demand for these products is not a trend; it is an absolute priority for Millennials and for our customers who want more choices when it comes to organic, antibiotic-free, locally grown and humanely raised poultry.”
Specialities, Inc. will be introducing France’s legendary all natural Bayonne Ham at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City to complete the “trilogy” of the finest cured meats in the United States. The Bayonne Ham is crafted to the highest standards using a unique process handed down by centuries of meticulous care, time and knowledge. Bayonne Hams are the standard by which all other French hams are judged. Specalities, Inc. will be showcasing both the traditional tasting Bayonne Ham and a flavor of Bayonne Ham that has been cured and coated using France’s world famous AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) Espelette Red Peppers.
A ham can only become a Bayonne Ham if it’s produced in the very specific, clearly defined areas of the Adour basin in the heart of French Basque for salting and the south of France for rearing. All Bayonne Hams are assured by the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) since October 7, 1998 and protected under the European Union PGI label. The PGI label informs consumers about the specific characteristics of products and protects their geographical names from imitation and usurpation. Bayonne hams have only four ingredients; specially-bred and fed French pigs (corn and cereals), salt from the natural springs deep beneath the Pyrenees Mountains, air and the most important ingredient, time.
Bayonne Hams are air-dried, dark in color, with a very tender mild flavor with only a hint of saltiness. All Bayonne Hams have stringent levels of production requirements (breeding, slaughter and butchering, salting and distribution) all approved by officers from the Consortium du Jambon de Bayonne.
Specialities, Inc. was awarded the prized cured ham from France last July by the Delpeyrat Bayonne Ham Company based upon their expertise and experience to source, distribute and create sell-through of “Best of Class” specialty brands in the United States. After a two year approval process, the U.S. Department of Agriculture put its stamp of approval to begin importing the Bayonne Ham with the first shipments arriving in August of this year.
“We are honored to have been selected as the exclusive purveyor of the Bayonne Ham in the United States,” said Richard Kessler of Specialities, Inc. “We can’t wait for show attendees to experience the exceptional taste and smooth texture of this legendary ham.
All Bayonne Hams are cured by rubbing with 100 percent all-natural Adour basin salt and then covered with a thick layer of salt and placed in the salting room. The hams are suspended in a room where they are dried at a low temperature in artificially created winter conditions. Then the hams are hung in drying rooms where the long maturing process begins, gradually enhancing their flavor, aroma and tenderness. The next step is a process in which a mixture of pork fat and flour is applied on the muscular parts of the ham, making for a gentler drying process during the long maturing period. In the last step, the ham acquires all of its qualities and revels its personality: a mild flavor, balanced saltiness and delicate aroma. Then the hams are tested by experts who define the hams’ taste qualities and are approved to wear the Bayonne branded tattoo. On average, it takes nine to 12 months to make a Bayonne Ham.
Specialities, Inc. will also be showcasing other “Best of Class” specialty brands Le Bistro French Recipe Ham, Noel Spanish Serrano, Solera Spanish Cheeses and Meats, Bellentani Deli Meats, LactAcores Portuguese cheeses and Ermitage French cheeses at its Summer Fancy Food Show booth.
Owl’s Brew, the tea crafted for cocktails, has added a fourth flavor to its growing lineup of premium tea-based mixers. White and Vine, the brand’s first white tea-based product, expertly blends fine white tea with all-natural watermelon, pomegranate, and lemon peel, for a tart and refreshing taste. As with every Owl’s Brew variety, White and Vine is versatile and can be poured with a range of spirits, beer, wine, and champagne, to create a range of effortless craft cocktails with sophisticated taste profiles, and refreshingly modest calorie counts. White and Vine pairs ideally with tequila or gin.
White and Vine is available now on Owl’s Brew’s website and from select online retailers such as Craft & Caro, Goldbely, Food52 and Brit & Co, and will soon be found at specialty food grocers, supermarkets, home and wine and spirits retailers throughout the U.S.
“White and Vine’s white tea profile makes the perfect addition to the current Owl’s Brew line—and is a delicious base for summer cocktails,” said Jennie Ripps, Founder and CEO of Owl’s Brew. “We’re thrilled to be continuing to innovate and introducing new twists on the at-home cocktail through our crafted-for-cocktails tea blends.”
Owl’s Brew’s three original flavors include Coco-Lada, sweet with a spicy kick, rounded out by coconut and sweetened with natural agave; Pink & Black, a robust darjeeling, with a hint of hibiscus, sweetened with agave; and The Classic, English breakfast with a tart twist, sweetened with agave, with each serving 20 – 40 calories. All four flavors are available in both 8-ounce and 32-ounce sizes.
Owl’s Brew’s light flavor profile allows it to complement a wide range of spirits, and each of its flavors can be combined with multiple liquors, such as vodka, bourbon, tequila or even beer. The tea is fresh-brewed in micro-batches. Owl’s Brew is currently available at leading national retailers including BevMo!, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Williams-Sonoma, and West Elm.
Burnett Dairy Cooperative introduces fun new ways to snack. New String Whips, Artisan Cuts and new flavors of String Cheese will add excitement to the retail cheese case by offering on-trend flavors and convenience to entice cheese lovers of all ages.
String Whips are Burnett Dairy’s award-winning natural mozzarella string cheese in a fun, spaghetti-like shape. They are the perfect snack for kids and adults and are available in Creamy Original and Homestyle Ranch.
String Cheese is a favorite go-to snack for kids and adults. Bringing some fun to the category, Burnett Dairy’s three new varieties of natural mozzarella string cheese are blended with meats and spices to create protein packed fun flavors: Zesty Teriyaki, Hot Pepper Beef and Pepperoni Pizza. These flavors join Burnett Dairy’s Smoked, Ranch and Creamy Original. Each piece is individually wrapped for easy, on-the-go freshness.
Artisan Cuts are flavorful and convenient for snacking, entertaining and cooking. These cracker-sized pieces have a hand-cut appearance in a variety of sizes making them ideal for crackers, sliders and cheese trays – without the cutting and mess! Available in seven fun varieties, each in a resealable bag: Bacon & Onion Colby, Roasted Garlic Monterey Jack, Rosemary Herb Cheddar, Italian Sun-Dried Tomato Monterey Jack, Aged Cheddar, Colby and Fancy Jack. Artisan Cuts are available in select markets only.
Burnett Dairy Cooperative, farmer-owned since 1896, is a place where farm families work side-by-side with crop and dairy experts to produce the highest quality milk, from the ground up. A place where a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker then creates cheese in inventive flavors and crafts new varieties in limited batches.
The Vermont Cheese Council (VCC), a non-profit trade association committed to the promotion and advancement of quality cheese production in Vermont, signed its 50th principal member, Sweet Rowen Farmstead, located in West Glover, Vermont, to its membership roster.
“It’s a great milestone with a lot of history behind it,” said Jeremy Stevenson, Cheesemaker at Spring Brook Farm/Farms for City Kids and former VCC President. “It is very encouraging to see the VCC growing with the community of cheesemakers and working with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to facilitate growth and stability into the future.”
Founded in 1996 with 19 original members, the Vermont Cheese Council helped to establish the Vermont brand in the cheese industry through quality production, safety training and the promotion of Vermont cheesemakers.
Allison Hooper, Owner of Vermont Creamery and Past VCC President added, “In 1997 the Vermont Cheese Industry was comprised of about 19 cheesemakers but we were invisible. Forming the Council changed that and even attracted people to Vermont to make cheese.”
“The VCC is a huge success story,” commented Laini Fondiller, Cheesemaker at Lazy Lady Farm and Past President of the organization. “It has done all that it set out to do and then expanded into having the ability to provide even more through the annual cheese festival and has now garnered world-wide acclaim with its great cheese,”
Since its creation, Vermont cheesemakers have earned hundreds of awards and accolades for their world-class cheeses. “I congratulate the Vermont Cheese Council on their 50th member,” said Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture. “Our state is well known for producing world-class cheeses, thanks in part to the critical role the Vermont Cheese Council plays in supporting our cheesemakers. The growth of the cheese production in our state benefits our working landscape, our economy, and helps build Vermont’s reputation as producer of outstanding artisanal foods.”
Rachel Fritz Schaal, current President of the Vermont Cheese Council and co-owner of Parish Hill Creamery added, “We are excited to welcome our 50th cheesemaker to the council. Vermont has a vital community of producers who continue to support one another and thereby strengthen the group as a whole. The results are evident – and delicious.”
Through collaboration and marketing for all cheesemakers of all sizes, and with the added strength of Vermont’s agricultural brand, Vermont cheesemakers have made significant in-roads into the artisan, farmstead and large-scale commercial cheese industries. “Vermont cheesemakers have worked hard to develop a reputation for quality, safety and consistency, whether in artisan or large- scale cheesemaking,” said Tom Bivins, the Cheese Council Executive Director. “I am very proud of our cheesemakers whose work supports Vermont’s dairy farming families and our working landscape.”
The Vermont Cheese Council’s primary mission is to promote and advance the production of quality cheese. The council coordinates The Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, named a “Top Ten Summer Food Festival in the US” by Fodors in 2014, and publishes The Vermont Cheese Trail Map. More information about the Council and its members can be found at vtcheese.com. Information on the Seventh Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, to be held July 19, can be found at vtcheesefest.com.