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.
Emmi Roth USA, an award-winning producer of specialty cheeses, has announced the winner of its Grand Cru® Recipe Contest for Postsecondary Culinary Students. Caroline Ausman of Burlington, Wis., took top honors with her recipe for Manicotti en Croûte with Brandied Fig Sauce.
The contest, presented in conjunction with the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ), challenged postsecondary culinary students to create a flavorful and creative pasta recipe highlighting Roth Grand Cru, a washed rind Alpine-style cheese crafted in Wisconsin.
Ausman is currently enrolled as a student at the Art Institute of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and is pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Baking and Pastry. She attributes her culinary and pastry passion to working alongside her mother in the family kitchen while growing up.
“I truly feel at home in the kitchen, working with my hands and creating from scratch. This contest was an amazing opportunity for me to showcase what I love doing,” said Ausman. “Although developing the recipe was a tremendous, and sometimes challenging, process, I really learned a lot!”
The panel of Emmi Roth USA contest judges were impressed with the flavor and versatility of the recipe, remarking that the application “takes pasta in a whole new direction” and could be served as an appetizer or a savory dessert.
“We received so many fantastic recipes and were inspired by the passion and creativity shown by all of the entrants. Ms. Ausman’s recipe impressed us for its flavor, sophistication and elegance,” said Regi Hise, Director of Culinary Development at Emmi Roth USA. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to feature our cheeses in culinary applications, and manicotti wrapped in phyllo is a creative and delicious concept. The sweet flavors of the brandied fig sauce balance wonderfully with the savory Grand Cru manicotti filling, and the phyllo adds great texture – the recipe was a clear winner.”
Ausman’s first place finish, out of more than 35 entries from across the country, earned her $2,000 and registration and lodging accommodations at the upcoming National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, May 17-20, in Chicago. Ausman’s winning recipe will be served at the Emmi Roth USA Cheese 4 Chefs table during the NRA Show.
Orange tongues and fingers, grease stains, high fructose corn syrup, saturated fat, high calorie counts are the telltale signs of cheese-flavored chips, crisps and crackers.
Until now. Mr. Cheese O’s an all-natural, crunchy, delicious, and fun O-shaped cheese snack has announced its launch at Natural Foods Expo West. Mr. Cheese O’s comes from Sonoma Creamery, an artisan cheese company based in California’s wine country, that makes hormone free, 100-percent natural, gluten-free cheeses. The new healthier, wheat-free, corn-free snack comes in four indulgent varieties, — Original, Cheddar, Tuscan Herb and Sweet Chili — with 10-grams of protein per 1-ounce bag, using organic quinoa and other ancient grains.
Mr. Cheese O’s is a snack every kid will crave and every parent will feel good about serving – not to mention adults craving it themselves! Mr. Cheese O’s will be available in the deli section of national grocery and convenience store chains starting this June.
Mr. Cheese O’s handcrafted all-natural cheese and O-shaped bites that contain no artificial ingredients or artificial hormones. They’re gluten-free, preservative-free, corn-free and wheat-free. Made from organic quinoa and other ancient grains, they contain just 75 calories per serving and 150 calories for the 1-ounce pack. There are 10 grams of protein and 25 percent of the daily value of calcium in each pack, with no trans fat, 0 grams of sugar and 6 grams of carbohydrates. The list of ingredients is short, clear and pronounceable.
“As parents, how can we trust snack products that use ingredients with names we can’t even pronounce?” said Sonoma Creamery’s CEO, John Crean. “In a space that’s dominated by not-so-good-for-you products, and being a dad myself, I’m proud that our new Mr. Cheese O’s product is an extra tasty, crunchy real cheese snack with a clean label and all natural ingredients that parents can feel good about giving their kids – and maybe saving a few for themselves, as well.”
Mr. Cheese O’s is set to roll out nationwide in all four varieties early this summer. One-ounce packs of Mr. Cheese O’s will retail for $2.99. Learn more at http://mrcheeseos.com and like Mr. Cheese O’s on Facebook at http://facebook.com/mrcheesesos.
The United States’ premier public artisan cheese event, the 8th Annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, today announces the participants in the Festival’s finale events: the Bubbles & Brunch and Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace on Sunday, March 23. Executive Chef Percy Whatley of The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite will demonstrate how to cook cheese-centric dishes at this three-course brunch event featuring bubbles by Gloria Ferrer. The brunch and cooking demonstration by Chef Whatley will take place on Sunday morning before the main event of the day, the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace.
Recently a semi-finalist for the Bocuse d’Or USA who was chosen to prepare dinner at the Beard House as part of a James Beard Foundation Event, Chef Whatley will be preparing California’s Artisan Cheese Festival’s Sunday Brunch at 9:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma. Not only will guests be treated to a glass of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine upon entry, but this sit-down, three-course brunch will also feature cheese-centric cooking demos by Chef Whatley and all attendees will gain VIP access into the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace at 11 a.m., an hour before it opens to the public.
Bringing together more than 70 of California’s best artisan cheesemakers, restaurants, breweries and wineries, this walk-around tasting and marketplace is one of the weekend’s most popular events. With two tents set up outside of the Sheraton Sonoma County, there will be more than 20,000 square feet of space for guests to comfortably navigate their way around this popular marketplace. During the event, guests will be able to not only taste and purchase the offerings of each participant, but also interact with the vendors, artisans, cheesemakers, brewers and winemakers. Throughout the day there will be chefs’ demos representing some of the Bay Area’s best chefs, including Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfellers at 1:45 p.m. and Liza Hinman of Spinster Sisters at 3 p.m. Several of the weekends’ cheesemakers and chefs are also authors and many will be selling and signing their cheese-inspired tomes at the Marketplace. The chefs’ demos will be taking place inside of the Sheraton Sonoma County and the book signings will be taking place inside of the tent throughout the day. Book signings and demos are included with admission to the Marketplace.
Tickets to several of the Festival’s other weekend-long events are also still available, including Friday night’s Meet the Cheesemakers Reception, several of the Saturday seminars and the Saturday night Best in Cheese Competition. Tickets for all events may be purchased at www.artisancheesefestival.com.
Norseland, Incorporated, the U.S. subsidiary of TINE SA, Norway’s largest dairy cooperative, is relaunching its USA website to reflect TINE’s global messaging for 2014. The website’s theme, Yours to Share, centers on the Jarlsberg experience, encouraging interaction with consumers by connecting the joy of eating Jarlsberg to lifestyle occasions. The Jarlsberg USA website and all social media platforms will work in tandem, creating a premium digital relationship with fans and followers.
“For over five decades, Jarlsberg has played a key role in developing the specialty cheese category and experience, becoming a favorite brand in the United States,” says Valerie Liu, Norseland’s Marketing and Advertising Specialist. “In the digital space, we communicate premium by shifting the focus on lifestyle: celebrating the act of giving, the joy of sharing and the benefit of knowing your favorite cheese brand – Jarlsberg.”
The new website features contemporary, easy to assemble and prepare recipes plus the current national Jarlsberg Lite promotion in stores now – submit your “nutty-est” Jarlsberg Lite promotion on Facebook for a chance to win a Spinning Bike Package. The site also includes an entertaining film clip, The Magician. Part of a “Sandwich Shorts” video series of people making sandwiches in fun, creative ways, the first video features Sweden’s champion illusionist, David Persson, conjuring up a Heavenly Jarlsberg Ciabatta. To view the video, visit www.jarlsbergusa.com.
Chobani announced today it will donate more than 5,000 cups of fresh Greek yogurt originally intended for Team USA athletes competing in Sochi, Russia, to food banks in New York and New Jersey.
“As a proud supporter of Team USA over the past four years, we’re disappointed our athletes won’t be able to enjoy Chobani while they compete in the games as we all hoped, and are deeply appreciative to everyone who tried to help get it there, especially Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand and various officials here at home,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chobani. “It’s been a long, cold winter and we’re happy incredible organizations in New York and New Jersey, who share our vision to provide nutritious foods, will be able to serve fresh cups of Chobani to those in need. We’ll be waiting for our athletes when they come home while cheering them on every step of the way,” he added.
As the official yogurt of the 2014 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, chefs and nutritionists serve Chobani to athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Centers. To naturally power Team USA and provide food they enjoy from home, Chobani intended to deliver 5,000 fresh single-serve cups of blueberry, strawberry and peach Chobani, and multi-serve containers of plain Chobani yogurt for smoothies, to Team USA athletes in Sochi.
For years, Chobani has frequently donated products to organizations in New York and Idaho and through its foundation is actively focused on making good food more accessible to all, especially youth and underserved communities. Since Chobani’s earliest days, it has made a pledge to give 10 percent of its profits to charity and supports grassroots organizations all over the world. Chobani will deliver the 5,000-plus units of fresh Greek yogurt intended for Team USA to food banks in New Jersey and New York City.