Castleton Crackers has been named a Finalist in the Outstanding Cracker category for its Governor’s Cheddar cracker in the Specialty Food Association’s 2014 sofi™ Award competition.
A sofi is the top honor in the $88 billion specialty food industry. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and represents the best of the best from members of the Specialty Food Association
The Governor’s Cheddar Crackers were one of 109 finalists selected by a national panel of specialty food professionals from 2,025 entries across 30 Award categories from Outstanding Appetizer to Outstanding Vinegar. Winners will be announced by noted chef Dominique Ansel at a red-carpet ceremony June 30, 2014, at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.
We are thrilled that the Governor’s Cheddar Crackers made it to the finals among such worthy competition,” says Whitney Lamy, Founder of Castleton Crackers. “This is a delicious combination of Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company’s award-winning Governor’s Cheddar cheese and my artisan cracker recipe,” says Lamy, who started working with VFCC in January of 2013. Whitney’s complete Castleton Cracker line is sold at grocery and specialty stores throughout the country and online at castletoncrackers.com.
“A sofi is the highest honor for products from our members, who bring craft, care and joy to the specialty food they create. The honor means the product is simply the best in its category,” says Specialty Food Association President Ann Daw.
The sofi Awards are open to members of the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit trade association established in 1952 for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs with more than 3,000 members in the U.S. and abroad. For more information on the association and its Fancy Food Shows, go to specialtyfood.com. Learn more about the 2014 sofi Awards at specialtyfood.com/sofi.
Arthur Schuman Inc., an importer and distributor of domestic hard cheeses, has partnered with the Greek Company Dodoni SA, establishing the company as the exclusive importer and distributor of Dodoni SA Products in the U.S. Dodoni is widely recognized around the world for its P.D.O. (Protected Destination of Origin) feta cheese and other Greek dairy products. The partnership between the two dairy companies provides the U.S. market with widespread access to these premium authentic Greek products.
“As a company that prides itself on importing the best cheeses and working with the strongest and most sustainable companies, Dodoni SA is a natural fit for us,” explained Neal Schuman, President and Owner of Arthur Schuman, a fourth generation family business. “We believe Dodoni, and particularly its P.D.O. feta cheese, will thrive in the US market.”
Dodoni cheese and dairy products are currently available for order from Arthur Schuman and requests from customers across retail, foodservice and industrial markets may be placed starting immediately. The products will be available at major club stores with national reach, with additional outlets to follow.
Arthur Shuman and its distribution network will be targeting all channels of distribution, in particular those customers who demand and appreciate the best quality cheeses.
TEA•RRIFIC! ICE CREAM® ice cream is now available at most Whole Foods Market locations throughout New England. The following flavors will be available – Chunky London Mist, Ginger Matcha, Masala Chai and Chamomile.
Mario Leite, President and Founder of TEA•RRIFIC! ICE CREAM stated, “We are very excited to extend our relationship with a partner such as Whole Foods Market which maintains such high standards in its product selection, and to have the opportunity to share our distinctly delicious ice cream with their customers throughout New England.”
To find a location near you, visit the company website at http://tearrificicecream.com/where-to-find/.
The American Cheese Society (ACS) today announces its Call for Entries for the 2014 Judging & Competition. This annual judging of American cheeses and cultured dairy products takes place July 27 and 28, 2014, at the Sacramento Convention Center in Sacramento, Calif., immediately prior to the 31st Annual ACS Conference, Celebrating the American Cheese Plate, which will be held from July 29 to August 1 in Sacramento.
The largest competition of its kind, the ACS Judging & Competition saw a record 1,794 entries in 2013, submitted by 257 cheesemakers. As the ACS Judging & Competition returns to California for the first time in more than ten years, participation in 2014 is expected to be stronger than ever. The ACS Judging & Competition Committee has enlisted 38 renowned judges from around the world to evaluate products across 106 different categories. The Judging & Competition recognizes cheeses of the highest quality for their aesthetic and technical merits. Awards for first, second and third places are given to the cheeses which receive the highest scores in their category, based on a minimum point threshold. After two intense days of judging, first-place winners in each category are evaluated together, and a “Best of Show” is chosen. Winners will be revealed at the annual ACS Awards Ceremony on Thursday, July 31 in Sacramento.
The 2014 Call for Entries is open through Friday, May 16. The entry fee for each product is $60 through May 9. From May 10 to May 16, the entry fee will increase to $85. ACS is accepting entries via its dedicated online entry site, www.cheesejudging.com. Producers can log into the site to enter new products, or to view previous year’s entries and make edits or additions for 2014.
Registration for the ACS Annual Conference opens May 5, 2014. Individuals who purchase a full conference registration or a Thursday Day Pass can attend the ACS Awards Ceremony on July 31. Individual tickets to the Awards Ceremony may also be purchased by ACS members beginning on May 5.
Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the 2014 ACS Conference & Competition by volunteering (all volunteers receive one complimentary ticket to the Festival of Cheese), purchasing tickets to the Festival of Cheese, and attending the annual Cheese Sale. The Cheese Sale, on August 2, offers the opportunity to purchase artisan cheeses at incredible prices, with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit American Cheese Education Foundation. Those interested in volunteering must be 18 years of age or older, and are encouraged to sign up for a variety of shifts and events at http://www.cheesesociety.org/conference/volunteer/.
For more information about the 2014 ACS Conference & Competition, visit the ACS website.
Arena Cheese’s Spring Green Colby won Best of Class at the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest. Team Arena, led by Cheesemaker Bill Hanson, will be proud to accept the medal and blue ribbon at the awards banquet to recognize this team’s continual striving for excellence. “We are honored to be recognized as the best among so many fine cheesemakers who make Colby. We’ve been making authentic Colby cheese traditionally for over 15 years,” stated Bill Hanson, a Wisconsin cheesemaker for over 25 years. The World Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical evaluation of cheese and butter in the world. This year, 2,615 entries from 22 countries were entered into 90 categories.
The story of Colby Cheese is one of American ingenuity and abundance of quality ingredients. In 1885, a cheesemaker by the name of Joseph P. Steinwand in the Wisconsin town of Colby was working on a cow’s milk Cheddar cheese in his creamery. He experimented by washing his curds in cold water. This slight change in the cheese making process created a new cheese that was like Cheddar but creamier, softer and with a milder, more buttery flavor…the cheese we now enjoy as Colby.
Spring Green Colby cheese, crafted in Arena, Wisc. by Arena Cheese, garnered another high honor by being re-certified for an additional year under the BRC Global Food Standards guidelines with an A rating, the highest possible, as part of the Global Food Safety initiative. “As retailers and consumers are demanding more safety in the food we eat, Arena Cheese is proud to be working at the very highest standards and for being acknowledged for this effort,” says Cheesemaker Bill Hanson.
Arena has earned 13 national awards since 2002 and took home an award this year for Fresh Cheddar Curds in addition to the Best in Class award earned by the Spring Green Colby. In total, 257 cheese companies entered 1,794 different products for judging.
Arena Cheese is one of Wisconsin’s oldest cheese plants. This creamery is located in the Wisconsin River Valley within the lush, green rolling hills of the Spring Green area, made famous by visionary architect, Frank Lloyd Wright as well as by Arena’s delicious cheeses. Arena Cheese also makes deli horn mild Gouda, a natural hardwood Smoked Gouda and longhorn and deli horns of Colby/Jack.
By Lucas Witman
From the royal wedding to the London Olympics and from Harry Potter to Downton Abbey, British culture has never been more popular in the United States than it is today. Americans seem positively poised to pounce on any book, movie, television show or event emblazoned with the Union Jack or featuring iconic Briticisms. Once much maligned on this side of the Atlantic, British foods have not escaped the U.K. invasion, including what has perhaps become the most sought after British food staple in the United States: cheese. Today, shoppers at any artisan cheese shop in the United States or even any grocery store specialty cheese case can choose among a wide variety of British offerings.
When it comes to bringing British cheeses to the U.S. market, companies in the United Kingdom must navigate several particular challenges. Perhaps the biggest technical challenge British cheese producers face in exporting their products to this country concerns the different standards for the use of antibiotics that are in place in the United States and Europe. In Great Britain, a farmer can use antibiotics to treat a sick animal, but that animal must then be quarantined for several months before it can be allowed back into the herd. In the United States, once treated with antibiotics, the animal must be permanently removed from the herd. Some British cheese companies have overcome this disparity in standards by raising two separate herds, one producing milk for cheeses to be consumed domestically and one producing milk for cheeses intended for export to the United States.
Beyond the technical issues facing British cheese exports, however, there are a host of other adaptations companies in the United Kingdom must make in order to effectively reach out to American consumers. The Irish Dairy Board found this out when it first began selling its Pilgrim’s Choice line, one of the most popular cheese lines in Great Britain, in the United States.
“A key headline for our business is that U.S. Consumers want to know where the product comes from,” said Conor O’Donovan, Category Sales Manager for U.K. Cheese at the Irish Dairy Board. “While Pilgrim’s Choice as a brand name has strong resonance in the U.K., it was relatively meaningless in the U.S. so it was important to define the origin of the cheese and find a name that resonates for the consumer.” By changing the name of the cheese line to Londoner and placing a Union Jack prominently on the label, the company found that it was finally able to effectively market its cheeses to U.S. consumers.
Another part of successfully marketing British specialty foods in the United States is learning about and responding to uniquely American trends. According to Nicola Turner Export Director for Kingdom British Organic Heritage Cheeses, perhaps the biggest American trend to which her company has been forced to adapt is the U.S. local products movement.
“In the U.S., there is very much a drive for local and supporting local,” said Turner. “In the U.K., this exists too but imported specialty cheeses offer something different. It’s about discovery—allowing you to experience a new place, a new culture from your own four walls.”
Turner also noted that cheese consumption in the United States is tied to wine consumption in a way that does not necessarily translate to the British marketplace. “There seems to be far more focus on wine pairings in the U.S. It does happen in the U.K., but in the U.S. you guys take it to another level,” she said. “In the U.K. … there isn’t this whole culture of matching wines. That’s something that I’ve had to get up to speed with quickly here.”
Still, despite a variety of cultural differences separating U.S. and U.K. consumers, British cheese companies have found that when it comes to the consumer flavor palate, there is relatively little difference between the two countries. “What we’ve found is that flavor profiles that develop in the U.K. are a good benchmark of what’s coming to the U.S.,” said O’Donovan. “We find that whatever flavor profile is becoming big in the U.K., generally America will follow. That’s been our experience,” said O’Donovan.
Richard Newton-Jones, Commercial Director for Welsh cheesemaker Snowdonia Cheese Company echoes O’Donovan’s observations, arguing that as Americans taste his company’s cheeses, the varieties and flavors that they most respond to are the same varieties and flavors that are the company’s biggest sellers in Great Britain. Although not yet commercially available in the United States, Snowdonia is planning to introduce its cheeses to this market in the near future, and Newton-Jones says that it will make no changes to the product in order to appeal to American palates.
When it comes to cheeses native to the British Isles, there are several products that are historically synonymous with this nation. Stilton, for example, is a popular bleu cheese linked to the British counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Caerphilly is one of the most popular Welsh cheeses, a mild, crumbly cow’s milk cheese with a pleasant tang. And Wensleydale is one of the most popular cheeses throughout Britain, often found blended with cranberries or apples.
However, the undisputed king of British cheeses is Cheddar. “The cheese market and the specialty cheese market is very competitive. There are hundreds of cheeses here,” said Turner. “Cheddar is our first offering, because everyone likes a good cheddar.”
Cheddar cheese represents British culinary heritage perhaps more than any other food. The cheese was originally made in and is named for the village of Cheddar in the southwestern corner of the country. Historically, the cheese was aged in the area’s many caves. Cheddar cheese benefited from the region’s unique climate, and the abundant grassy landscape that provides almost all of the diet for the area’s cows.
There are a number of things that make authentic British cheddars a much sought after cheese treat throughout the world. “British cheddar offers a discovery of an area that is very much well known for the taste of its cheese. You’ll have a different Cheddar experience,” said Turner.
“It is a different flavor profile, and the whole make process is different,” said Newton-Jones. “Basically the starter cultures which are used in these products are different from American cheddars. Also it’s different because the climate is different. For Snowdonia, we have a very high rainfall. The dairy herds in North Wales are grassfed herds. So we don’t have very high yielding herds … The result of that is that you get a higher level of butterfat and protein in the milk. So that allows us to produce a very high quality cheese as well.”
In explaining what makes British Cheddar so special, O’Donovan offered a British saying, popular among the country’s cheesemakers: “You have the grass in the cow’s tail,” he said. “What it means is that literally the cow’s tail is in the grass. Therefore you have the real grassy flavor.”
For Turner, bringing her company’s cheese to American consumers is about giving them an opportunity to figuratively travel to a new place. Regardless of the popularity of local foods in this country, when it comes to cheese, she believes there will always be a place in the U.S. consumer landscape for imported products that offer a taste of a particular place in the world.
“It’s unique, and it’s a discovery, and I think that’s what consumers are saying,” said Turner. “When it comes to specialty cheese, it gives them a way of discovering new things. You can support local, but it adds a little more spice by trying different things. It’s a bit like traveling the world without going anywhere.”
Emmi Roth USA will be a national partner and the official specialty cheese sponsor at four of Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® events, including the upcoming Taste of the Nation Houston event on April 6.
At Taste of the Nation events, guests will have the opportunity to sample a range of imported cheeses from Switzerland, such as Kaltbach Cave-aged Le Gruyère AOP, Kaltbach Cave-aged Emmentaler AOC, SwissArt and Appenzeller, along with award-winning selections from Wisconsin, including Grand Cru® Reserve, Buttermilk Blue®, GranQueso®, Horseradish Havarti, and the recently introduced 3 Chile Pepper Gouda.
Every year, Taste of the Nation events bring together the country’s best chefs, sommeliers and mixologists to raise money for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign, which is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need to the healthy food they need, every day. Held in more than 30 cities across the nation, guests of Taste of the Nation can sip and sample gourmet creations from each city’s premier culinary talent and participate in unique culinary, travel and lifestyle auctions – all while raising funds to make No Kid Hungry a reality. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $85 million.
“We are proud to sponsor Taste of the Nation events and continue to serve as proud partners of the No Kid Hungry campaign this year,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales at Emmi Roth USA. “We look forward to sharing our domestic and international award-winning cheeses with food lovers across the country for a great cause.”
Taste of the Nation Houston will be held April 6, 2014 at the Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa. Emmi Roth will also sponsor Taste of the Nation events in New York City on April 28, Minneapolis on June 23 and Chicago on August 13.
In addition to sponsoring the events, Emmi Roth USA will donate $1 to the No Kid Hungry campaign for each Roth Signature Cheese Board Kit sold in 2014. For more information on the Cheese Board Kit, visit www.emmirothfoodservice.com.
Wisconsin cheesemakers dominated the competition at the recent World Championship Cheese Contest, winning 106 awards—about 39 percent—of the total 273 awards given, including 38 Best of Class, 34 second place and 34 third place awards.
Wisconsin’s accomplishment represented five times the number of awards as those won by the closest competitor, Switzerland with 21. Switzerland also claimed the contest’s World Championship Cheese prize with Original Schweizer Rohmilch Emmentaler and second runner-up to the winner with Fromagerie Moleson Gruyère AOP. Austria was first runner-up for Erzherzog Johann cheese.
This year’s contest marked the third consecutive World Championship in which Wisconsin has improved its share of total award wins, claiming 30.8 percent in 2008, 31.3 percent in 2010 and 37.8 percent in 2012.
“Wisconsin’s record of exceptional performance speaks to the high quality of milk from Wisconsin dairy farms, where all our cheesemaking begins,” said Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Chief Executive Officer, James Robson. “Add to that the fact that Wisconsin has the highest concentration of great cheesemakers in the world, and you’ve got a combination that’s hard to challenge.”
Wisconsin also was the leader in Best of Class medals, winning 38, and swept 11 of 90 competition classes: Bandaged Cheddar (Sharp to Aged), Aged Provolone, Parmesan, Flavored Havarti, Brick (including Muenster), Aged Gouda, Smoked Gouda, Hard Hispanic Cheeses, Cold Pack Cheese (including Cheese Food), Cold Pack Cheese Spread and Open Class: Shredded Cheese.
Additionally, graduates of Wisconsin’s elite Master Cheesemaker® program, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, had an outstanding performance, taking home a total of 29 awards.
Sartori Cheese received two “Best of Class” awards at this year’s World Championship Cheese Contest held in Madison, Wisc. The competition was host to over 2,600 entries from a total of 22 countries. Sartori’s Extra-Aged Asiago was named “Best Asiago” while SarVecchio® Parmesan received a “Best of Class” in the shredded cheese open class.
Two years ago at this biennial competition, Sartori’s Extra-Aged Asiago took home a “Best of Class” in the Open Class Hard Cheeses and Sartori’s SarVecchio Parmesan received a “Best of Class” in the shredded class, making it the best shredded cheese in the world four years running. “This competition is very technical. The judges look for up to 50 defects in a cheese and judge in tenths of a point up to 100 points. Their standards of quality are set high,” states Sartori Research & Development Vice President Pat Mugan.
“The incredibly high quality milk provided by our patron farms is a vital first step in making great cheese. When out visiting with the farms, you can see these patron producers have a true love for the land and their animals. They know that the milk they are providing to Sartori is helping to make award-winning cheese and they’re proud of that,” states third generation Owner and CEO Jim Sartori.
Sartori’s Extra-Aged Asiago and SarVecchio Parmesan cheeses are hand-crafted in Antigo, Wisc. Each cheese wheel is carefully handled by Sartori’s team members. “We have high quality standards not just at the farm, but also at our cheese making facilities. It’s important for us to follow through with a level of quality that we are proud of. If we all continue with high quality standards, we’ll see the results, such as a ‘Best of Class’ win at one of the most prestigious cheese competitions in the United States,” Jim Sartori says.
Sartori received one additional award for its Merlot BellaVitano®, a second place finish right behind the SarVecchio Parmesan in the shredded cheese open class. For additional information about Sartori, visit the website at sartoricheese.com and follow on Facebook and Twitter @Sartori_Cheese for daily news and updates.
MilkSplash™, a new milk flavoring designed for kids, is launching this week in select Target stores, and nationally at Walmart and other retailers in April.
Created and marketed by North Carolina-based S&D Beverage Innovations, MilkSplash has a variety of great-tasting flavors, fun colors and engaging characters such as Cocoa Loco, Sir Strawberry Swirl™, Orange Cream Dream, Cookies ‘N Cream and Jammin’ Banana – with more to come.
“We created MilkSplash to give kids lots of wonderful options to flavor their milk because research shows nearly seven in 10 kids drink more milk when it’s flavored – and we know that kids need to drink more milk,” said Dr. Maya Zuniga, Director of Product Innovation at S&D. “With milk consumption declining for decades, many children miss out on the recommended amount of milk and its essential nutrients, including three that are of most concern – calcium, vitamin D and potassium.”
“Moms are also concerned about the amount of sugar in the beverages their children drink according to a recent nationwide survey, so they’ll be pleased to know that MilkSplash is zero calorie,” adds Dr. Zuniga.
Following in the footsteps of liquid water enhancers and the positive impact they have had on water consumption, MilkSplash milk flavoring is doing the same for kids and milk.
MilkSplash Offers More Milk Flavoring Choices
“We’re defining a new category of highly concentrated liquid milk flavorings, and offering more choices than kids have ever had before,” said John Buckner, Vice President of Marketing at S&D, who is overseeing the MilkSplash launch. “Chocolate and strawberry syrups and powders have been among the limited options for adults and kids alike – until now. MilkSplash is launching with five flavors, but there are many more in the pipeline, as well as all-natural versions of MilkSplash in development.”
Every small bottle of MilkSplash makes at least 24 servings, requiring just a gentle squeeze and simple stir to turn white milk into a delicious treat kids love that lets them enjoy milk on their own terms.
“Moms love MilkSplash because it encourages kids to make healthier beverage choices,” said Dr. Zuniga. “They also appreciate that it’s not messy like powder or syrup flavorings, and can be taken to school in a backpack or lunchbox – or dropped in a bag for a trip to the mall or the park.”
“It’s time to shake things up and add variety, delicious flavors and cute characters that will get kids excited about milk and flavoring it their way,” said Buckner. “Our dream is to have kids say to moms, ‘May I have some more milk please?’”
For more information about MilkSplash, including where to buy it, visit www.milksplash.com or call 1-855-MILKPLZ.