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KABRITA USA Expands Goat Milk Yogurt and Fruit Pouch Line

KABRITA USA, a line of premium goat milk formula and goat milk baby foods made with naturally easy-to-digest, non-GMO goat milk, is introducing a new flavor, Sweet Potato Apple Cinnamon. The new flavor is shipping to retailers nationwide this month.

KABRITASweet Potato Apple Cinnamon Goat Milk Yogurt is made with organic sweet potato, organic apple puree and organic cinnamon, as well as gentle, antibiotic-free whole goat milk yogurt for a comforting and nutritious snack or breakfast. High in vitamins A and E, it contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and comes in convenient, squeezable BPA-free packaging.

“KABRITA is excited to present this new, unique flavor that will add some warmth to the winter months,” said Simona Irwin, Director of Sales at KABRITA USA. “We know that little ones will be more likely to choose healthy snacks from a young age if companies like KABRITA provide delicious, nutrient-rich flavors that appeal to all palates. Our goat milk yogurt pouches are also a great alternative for the many parents out there whose kids are sensitive to cow’s milk.”

The full KABRITA product line includes Goat Milk Formula for Toddlers in small and large sizes, and Goat Milk Yogurt and Fruit pouches, which are also available in Mango Peach, Banana and Natural Vanilla Bean and Mixed Berry. The pouches can be introduced from six months of age and are approximately 70 percent organic. All products are naturally easy to digest and may be a solution for little ones with a cow’s milk sensitivity, which can surface as digestive discomfort, congestion or eczema. Goat milk is one of the most commonly consumed milks worldwide. KABRITA goat milk is produced without any exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones or preservatives and is free from artificial colors and flavors.

KABRITA is available at natural and traditional grocers nationwide, including Sprouts Farmers Market, Safeway, Whole Foods Market and major online retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com, Costco.com and more. To learn more about KABRITA, the benefits of goat milk, and for expert nutrition insight via its Nourish Blog, visit http://www.kabritausa.com.

It’s Springtime for Bellwether Farms

By Lorrie Baumann

DSCN0213Liam Callahan measures his days out in minutes: 10 minutes until time to cut the curd for Carmody, another 10 until time to add the rennet to Crescenza and then a few minutes to come back to his tiny office at the front of the creamery to attend to paperwork and keep an eye on the newly installed “lamb cam” that watches over the activity in Bellwether Farms’ sheep barns. The metronomic ticking away of the tasks is a calm measure of certainty that stands in sharp counterpoint to the uncertainties in which Callahan, as well as every other farmer and artisanal cheesemaker, operates: the vagaries of weather that decide feed availability and costs and therefore the production costs of milk, the threats from new regulations decided in Washington and the weight of the paperwork they entail, the whims of consumers who might decide that dairy products are the villain behind the bulge at their waistlines.

Baby_Lamb_300dpi_1.2Outside the Bellwether Farms creamery, in the wake of a tumultuous 2016, it seems like anything could happen. Inside the creamery, the aging rooms full of Pepato and Blackstone are milk in the bank, the lamb cam monitor behind Callahan’s desk reassures that the farms’ future is fine, the clock says it’s time to drain the whey from the Carmody and prepare to turn it into basket-drained ricotta made in the traditional Italian way, and at 50, Callahan is optimistic about the future of the American artisanal cheese industry and his place in it. “I don’t think we’ve begun to exhaust the possibilities of people knowing where their food comes from,” he says. “People have realized that they enjoy knowing more about their food.”

BF_Cheeses-2Let’s take a step back for a moment to introduce you to the cast of characters here. Carmody is a firm cheese made from pasteurized Jersey cow milk made by cheesemaker Liam Callahan at Bellwether Farms, which is near Petaluma, California. Crescenza is also made from pasteurized Jersey cow milk, but it’s a soft-ripened rindless cheese with a tart flavor. Pepato is an aged semi-soft sheep milk cheese studded with peppercorns. Blackstone is an aged mixed milk cheese studded with peppercorns and hand rubbed with vegetable ash. Liam Callahan is the cheesemaker at Bellwether Farms, which was founded by his mother, Cindy Callahan, who began raising sheep to keep the grasses under control on the farm she and her husband bought as a country home. “We were just basically looking for lawnmowers,” Callahan says.

The family bought its first 20 bred ewes at a Petaluma livestock auction and the first lambs were born on December 24, 1986. “Our heads were spinning. We knew nothing from nothing,” Callahan says.

Suddenly, Cindy was the farm’s herd manager, a role that she is just beginning to step back from, in favor of what Callahan calls “a high hover” that will free her from the exigencies of the lambing schedule. The family kept those first lambs, bought more sheep and started selling extra lambs to local restaurants in 1987. “One of our very first customers was Chez Panisse,” Callahan recalls. “Our primary product was the lamb until 1990, when we built the dairy.”

LiamLamb_300dpiCallahan was just finishing college when a family friend visited from the Middle East. He noticed the sheep grazing on the slopes of Bellwether Farms’ hills and pointed out that where he came from, sheep were milked to make cheeses. That was when the Callahans realized that many of their favorite imported cheeses were, in fact, made from sheep milk. “That summer, we built the dairy, started milking the sheep and making cheese and going to farmers markets,” he said. That timing dovetailed with the growth of farmers markets and with the American food movement in general, and local chefs who had learned in Europe to go to farmers markets to find the freshest of local ingredients found Bellwether Farms cheeses at the farmers markets around San Francisco. “A lot of the value of these products is in explaining the story of how they’re made,” Callahan says. “Everything we’ve done has been because we were interested in it…. For the most part, the things we were interested in have aligned with the direction the market has gone.”

DSCN0190“I’m not doing anything, really, that hasn’t been done for centuries. But is it innovative to say, ‘I want to do it that way again?’” he adds. “The fact that this is done in a unique way resonates with a lot of consumers…. It’s more than cheese – there’s a history there. There’s a story there.”

blackberryToday, Callahan makes highly regarded sheep milk yogurts and an array of award-winning cheeses from both his sheep milk and from cow milk purchased from local organic dairy farmers, and he’s planning the construction of a new creamery that should be finished in 2018 and that will expand his capacity with space for aging more cheeses and for giving him a little more elbow room around the cheese vats. He has recently been elected to the board of directors for the Dairy Sheep Association of North America, taking his place as a husbandman of sheep as well as the farm’s cheesemaker as his mother steps away from her herd management.

There’s been some controversy about the future of the sheep dairy industry in the U.S. after both Many Fold Farm and Barinaga Ranch ceased cheese production recently. Journalist Janet Fletcher discussed the reasons for that in a New York Times article in which she suggested that the American sheep dairy industry might be doomed by the economics of competing with European sheep milk cheeses. She noted that the cheeses produced by both Many Fold Farm and Barinaga Ranch were excellent cheeses, as evidenced by the many ribbons that their cheesemakers were taking home from competitions, but that wasn’t translating into profits for the farmsteads behind them.

Callahan believes, though, that despite these regrettable losses, there’s no immediate necessity for gloom about the future of the sheep dairy industry as a whole. “We really feel that we’re on the cusp of turning the corner, but I still feel there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about what sheep milk has in the future,” he says. “The consumers respond to the milk and the products we make from it.”

He pointed out that recent nutrition research has shown that sheep milk has valuable health benefits, and the U.S. government has recently approved the importation of a limited supply of dairy sheep semen from France and that there are efforts under way to begin importing dairy sheep from Spain as well. “That’s a game-changer,” he says. Callahan plans to incorporate some of those genetics into his flock, which should result in lambs that will eventually grow into ewes that will produce more milk than do the ewes he has today. That should reduce his production costs for milk, and it will also make his lambs more valuable as potential breeding stock. All of that will give him a more solid economic base for his business. “We’re loving the sheep milk,” he says. “We’re just stuck on production…. Our ability to grow depends on our ability to use peak milk and put it in a cheese bank.”

Spring Issue of The Cheese Guide Now Available

Click here or the cover image above to be among the first to read the spring 2017 issue of The Cheese Guide.

Featured stories include profiles of:

  • Bellwether Farms
  • Cypress Grove Cheese
  • Cheddars from Rogue Creamery
  • Minerva Dairy
  • Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheeses
  • Yellow Door Creamery and
  • The Inspiration Behind Emmi Roth USA’s Creation of World Champion Grand Cru Surchoix!

Unique Ghee-Flavored Organic Popcorn to Launch

Gourmet ghee brand Fourth & Heart, has partnered with snack company LesserEvil to craft the first-to-market ghee popcorn snack. The new product Oh My Ghee, is a delicious organic, butter flavored popcorn that will showcase Fourth & Heart’s premium grass fed ghee for sensational flavor.

Light, crunchy, buttery, popcorn is the epitome of the perfect nosh. Many varieties are drenched in salt and artificial butters that are loaded with chemicals, transforming this otherwise delicious treat into a diet disaster. However, the new Oh My Ghee popcorn snack by LesserEvil is a tasty and healthy option.  Oh My Ghee brings together a pure and simple ingredient line-up of organic popcorn, Himalayan pink salt and savory Fourth & Heart original recipe ghee to boost the flavor factor and pump up the nutritional profile. Fourth & Heart sources its exceptional ghee from grass fed, pasture-raised cows in New Zealand, making it a nutritional powerhouse. Loaded with vitamin A, D, E, K and butyric acid, Fourth & Heart’s ghee turns the popcorn morsels into a nourishing snack. LesserEvil takes care in heating the ghee at a low temperature while applying it to the popcorn, ensuring consumers receive the full health benefits of ghee. Oh My Ghee popcorn is a great source of fiber as well as kosher, USDA Organic and Non GMO Project certified. Oh My Ghee is the latest addition to LesserEvil’s popular Buddah Bowl line.

“We are ecstatic to collaborate with LesserEvil as their ghee of choice for the launch of Oh My Ghee popcorn,” said Fourth & Heart Founder and CEO Raquel Gunsagar. “Fourth & Heart’s ethos and dedication to bringing only the highest quality food goods to consumers, perfectly align with those of LesserEvil. It brings us great joy to see our ghee help reinvent the classic popcorn snack as brought to life by Oh My Ghee.”

“We are committed to quality and innovation,” says Charles Coristine, CEO of LesserEvil Healthy Brands. “We searched out the best ghee on the planet and found a new friend and partner in Fourth & Heart right here in the United States. They are another family owned company with a commitment to amazing products.”

Oh My Ghee Popcorn will be available in all Wegmans locations as of February 1, 2017. Each 5.0-ounce bag will retail for $3.99. Oh My Ghee will launch nationwide through UNFI and other select distributors in March 2017.  For more information on Fourth & Heart or LesserEvil, visit their websites  at fourthandheart.com and lesserevil.com.

Le Roule Spreadable Cheese Launches with 3 Flavors

Recognizable by its distinct swirl, Le Roulé is a fresh spreadable cheese that is sprinkled with either savory or sweet ingredients, and then hand-rolled to form a log before being sliced, revealing its ingredients in the form of its unmistakable spiral. The line-up of flavors for this new product includes: Garlic & Herb, Savory & Sweet Peppers, and Cranberry.

Le Roulé, which means ‘roll’ in French, is handcrafted in France’s northeast mountain region of Les Vosges, in the village of Neufchâteau. Made from locally sourced fresh cow’s milk, this specialty cheese is creamy and smooth, with a remarkably clean, fresh taste.

Unlike other spreadable cheeses, which are mass-produced, Le Roulé continues to be made just the way it was from the beginning, almost 40 years ago, with fresh curd spread atop a layer of spicy, tart or sweet ingredients, then rolled to form a log, sliced and individually hand-packaged.

  • Garlic & Herb: The fresh taste of herbs and mild garlic flavor are beautifully balanced by the refreshing taste of the cheese. A standout on any cheese platter, this flavor can also be used to enhance recipes such as pasta, soup, or atop a bagel with smoked salmon. The pillar of the Le Roulé line, Garlic & Herb is available in a 5.3-ounce package.
  • Savory & Sweet Peppers: The mild taste of red peppers is harmoniously combined with green peppers as well as spices and herbs such as chili pepper, paprika, cumin, and coriander, making for a complex yet perfect balance of flavors. Le Roulé Savory & Sweet Peppers is available in a 4.4-ounce package.
  • Cranberry: The characteristically tart yet sweet cranberry blends naturally with the fresh taste of the luscious cheese. The creamy texture makes this cheese ideal for spreading on a cracker or even on a bagel for an indulgent breakfast or snack. Le Roulé Cranberry is available in a 4.4-ounce package.

Le Roulé will be exhibiting at the Winter Fancy Food Show.

Parmareggio Signs with Norseland

Parmareggio®, the maker of the Parmissimo® brand of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a co-operative of manufacturers and dairies, together with Norseland, Inc., the exclusive importer of Jarlsberg® cheese, have announced that the two companies have entered a partnership, effective January 2017.

This new alliance is expected to accelerate sales growth of Parmissimo and strengthen both companies’ brand positions in the U.S. market.

“This partnership complements our premium brand portfolio,” says John J. Sullivan, CEO & President of Norseland, Inc. “Parmissimo represents a company with strong values, deep routed in tradition and quality.”

 

“Norseland has a dominant position in America in the specialty cheese market,” says Ivano Chezzi, President of Parmareggio. “Parmareggio, the main producer of Parmigiano Reggiano in the world, is proud to be alongside Norseland who, just like us, believes in the values of cooperation to enhance the Parmissimo brand of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in the US market.”

Zingerman’s Creamery Cheese Now Available on East Coast  

Zingerman’s Creamery has entered into a new partnership with World’s Best Cheeses. The specialty food distributor directly delivers some of the best cheeses, crackers, oils, chocolates and meats from around the world to gourmet retail markets, and now those offerings include Zingerman’s small-batch artisan cheeses made in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This will be the first time the Creamery has had major distribution on the East Coast.

“We’re honored to be represented on the East Coast by World’s Best Cheeses,” says Zingerman’s co-Founder Ari Weinzweig. “Their distribution network will allow us to get our cheeses to specialty shops, restaurants, caterers and cafes without having to have them incur shipping costs from the Midwest.”

Since 2001, Zingerman’s Creamery has specialized in soft-ripened cheeses, employing a combination of Old World techniques and creative innovation to draw out full, complex flavor. The cow and goat milk used is sourced from a select group of small, regional farmers to secure the highest quality product. The collaboration with World’s Best Cheeses, a leader in the specialty food industry that has been family owned and operated for over 30 years and currently has offices in New York, Massachusetts, and California, is a natural and welcomed fit for both companies.

“We have always admired and respected Zingerman’s business and philosophy, and these delicious cheeses have been on our radar for some time,” says Stephen Gellert, ACS-CCP, Vice President of Business Development for World’s Best Cheeses. “We are very excited to finally be working together!”

World’s Best Cheeses is currently distributing Zingerman’s Creamery Detroit Street Brick, Chestnut Little Napoleon, Manchester, Liptauer, and Aged Chelsea. Full descriptions of each cheese can be found in the Cheese section at www.zingermanscreamery.com.

Prairie Farms Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms Announce Merger Agreement

Prairie Farms Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms have entered into a merger agreement. Both companies are farmer-owned dairy cooperatives and recognized leaders within the dairy industry. The combined entity will bring together two well-known brands and will expand sales opportunities for both cooperatives.

Under the terms of the agreement, Prairie Farms will merge the assets of Swiss Valley Farms into Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. Assets include five manufacturing plants that produce cheese and whey powder located in: Luana, Iowa; Shullsburg and Mindoro in Wisconsin; Rochester and Faribault in Minnesota. Swiss Valley Farms CEO Chris Hoeger will continue to oversee the operation of the plants. The combined company will operate under the name Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. The terms of the merger agreement must be approved by cooperative members from both companies.

“The merger with Swiss Valley was driven by our commitment to build value for our cooperative members and is consistent with our growth strategy. Swiss Valley’s contributions will allow us to diversify our product portfolio and expand into new markets,” said Ed Mullins, Executive Vice President and CEO of Prairie Farms.

Chris Hoeger, Swiss Valley’s CEO, stated, “We are very excited to be joining forces with Prairie Farms. This merger offers numerous benefits for our cooperative members and is an ideal opportunity to bring together two industry leaders. We will leverage the strengths of both companies to offer a broader range of products and to enhance and expand relationships with customers.”

As Prairie Farms and Swiss Valley collaborate on pre-merger integration activities, their employees and customers can expect a business-as-usual environment. If approved, the deal is expected to close mid-2017.

Murray’s Cheese Debuts Annelies

By Lorrie Baumann

annelies-for-webMurray’s Cheese has introduced a brand new cheese into the American market. Annelies starts with an Appenzeller-type cheese made in Switzerland by Walter Räss of Kaserie Tufertschwil. Räss makes the cheese, ages it in Switzerland for a couple of months and then ships the wheels to Murray’s Cheese in New York, where it’s aged on wood, its rind washed weekly with purified water, for a minimum of nine more months. “The cheese is very pliable early, without a whole lot of depth of flavor. As it ages, around the 13-month mark, we’re getting a lot of the tropical fruit [flavor notes], the salt is more concentrated, and you get more depth from the savory flavors,” said Steve Millard, Murray’s Cheese Vice President of Merchandising and Foodservice.

Murray’s will be the only shop selling the cheese outside the Räss’ village of St. Gallen in Switzerland. The Annelies name comes from Räss’ wife, who shares the name. It’ll be available at Murray’s New York stores and online throughout the year, as supplies allow. “It’s a good amount of cheese, but I fully anticipate us selling through it pretty quickly,” Millard said.

The collaboration responsible for the cheese started with a visit. “The cheesemaker came and visited the [Murray’s] caves a couple of years ago and had a conversation with our cave master,” Millard said. “The two of them really hit it off and got into a discussion about taking some of Walter’s cheeses at a young stage. He went back to Switzerland, and two months later, we got a couple of wheels of cheese wrapped in paper.”

“We had room in our cave, and we knew from aging Tarentaise that we get from Springbrook that our Alpine cave was developing some really good flavors,” he added. “We wanted to do it, in general, because we didn’t really have any Alpine cheeses that we were aging from a green stage…. We’ve always operated an Alpine cave, but we had previously been taking existing cheeses and aging them further.”

Murray’s cave master set the two wheels from Räss on a wood shelf and wash the rind every week for a year. “Walter came back in July, 2015 and tasted the cheese that had been in the cave for a year. He was totally blown away,” Millard said. “He instantly agreed to send us 30 wheels a month.”

The cheese is now part of Murray’s Cheese’s exclusive Cave Master line, which also includes Greensward. Greensward, a collaboration between Murray’s Cheese and Jasper Hill, shared third place honors with Jeffs’ Select Gouda in the best of show category at this year’s American Cheese Society Annual Judging & Competition. Greensward starts with Jasper Hill’s Harbison and is then washed with cider as it ages in Murray’s Affinage Caves.

New Study Assesses Potential Impacts of Geographical Indications on American Dairy Industry

By Lorrie Baumann

A new study highlights the cost for American cheesemakers and the entire dairy industry if European rules restricting the use of the “feta” and “parmesan” names were to be enforced in the United States as well. The only real good news in the report is that although small and medium-sized firms would be significantly pressured by lower cheese prices, they might be able to survive by marketing their niche and specialty cheeses. The report was funded by the Consortium for Common Food Names, a dairy industry group.

According to Informa Economics IEG, a market research firm specializing in the agriculture industry, the adoption of rules prohibiting American companies from using the “feta” and “parmesan” names would diminish demand for American-made cheeses now sold under those names, and the negative impacts could also affect American-made cheeses labeled Asiago, Gorgonzola, Romano, Havarti, Neufchatel, Fontina and Muenster. Eventually, those restrictions could also affect Brie, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Camembert, Gouda, Raclette, Edam, Provolone, Burrata, Emmentaler and even Cheddar cheeses.

Under European Union regulations, only cheesemakers in the specific geographic area in which certain cheeses originated are allowed to use names that have been ruled as geographic indicators. At present, there are 250 cheeses that have been granted such protection in the EU or are in the process of acquiring it. If U.S. cheese manufacturers were forced to adhere to these regulations, they’d likely be required to suspend use of names that have commonly been used in the U.S. for decades. The report suggests that the only U.S. cheeses that we can assume will never be affected by such restrictions are those sold as blue cheese, Monterey Jack, Baby Jack, Brick, Swiss, Colby, Baby Swiss and processed cheeses like Velveeta or Kraft Singles.

If these restrictions were to be imposed in the U.S. the immediate impact might be to reduce consumption of U.S.-produced cheeses by 578 million pounds, or 5 percent of total U.S. cheese consumption in 2015. At current market prices, that would be worth about $2.3 billion. Delayed impacts would be even greater, with consumption of U.S.-produced cheeses possibly falling by a projected 1.71 billion pounds.

Those drops in demand for American cheeses would have a significant effect on the U.S. dairy industry as a whole, with the possible effect that milk prices to the dairy farmers could fall by significantly over a 10-year period. That would put some dairy farmers out of business and reduce the size of the nation’s dairy cow herd. “The lower dairy prices do boost domestic consumption of other dairy products, and it does increase exports, but not nearly enough to offset the drop in cheese consumption,” according to the report.

Overall, the consumer reaction if the only mozzarella cheese they could find in their supermarket was imported from Italy and their cheddar could only come from Britain would trigger a sharp contraction in the U.S. dairy industry. The report predicts that dairy farm revenue could fall by 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent over three years, leading to revenue losses of $5.8 billion to $13.2 billion.

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