October 11, 2019
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Yancey’s Fancy launches its new cheese spread line with flavorful trio
Exact weight packages, updated labels also are rolling out

NEW SPREAD LINE — Yancey’s Fancy has introduced a flavorful trio as it debuts its spread line.

CHAMPION CHEESE — Yancey’s Fancy’s Chastinet, an Asiago-style cheese, was grand champion at this year’s New York State Fair competition.

By Kate Sander

CORFU, N.Y. — Yancey’s Fancy Inc. has always focused on creativity. Brian Bailey, the company’s longtime head cheesemaker and CEO since spring 2018, is the creative mind behind many of Yancey’s Fancy’s well-known flavored cheeses. This year, the company has taken that creativity in a new direction: cheese spreads.

The bold flavored cheese spreads Yancey’s Fancy currently is rolling out are a natural extension of the flavorful cheeses the company already offers, Bailey says.

While steering the company toward new business goals is important to Bailey, leading a team of talented cheesemakers is the role he most relishes.
“We’re always looking for something different, me and my little team of mad scientists,” Bailey says with a chuckle.

Yancey’s Fancy natural cheese spreads are different from a lot of others on the market in that they are not cold pack cheese nor are they processed cheese.

“They’re not smooth and creamy. They’re not a dip. They’re chunky; they’re basically something I’d make for guests,” Bailey says.

The new cheese spreads are available in Buffalo Wing, which includes Yancey’s Fancy’s Buffalo Wing Cheddar and Castello Blue from Arla Foods; Horseradish & Scallion, which features Yancey’s Fancy’s Horseradish Cheddar; and Hatch Chile, made from Yancey’s Fancy’s Hatch Chile Cheddar and described by Bailey as “nice, sweet and a little zippy.”

“We’re always looking for something different, me and my little team of mad scientists.”

Brian Bailey

All of the spreads are made from natural cheese varieties and are available in 8-ounce exact weight containers and 5-pound bulk tubs. The cheese spreads are primarily sold under the Yancey’s Fancy label, although some retailers are repackaging the spreads and putting their own store label on it, he says.

The company first tested the spreads at Kutter’s Cheese Factory store, a retail store next to the company’s plant that is owned and operated by Bailey and his wife, Heather. Bailey says the store is a great way to sample new cheeses and introduce new ideas to consumers who otherwise may be reluctant to try something unfamiliar.

“We get a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of inspiration there,” he says.

The Buffalo Wing flavor was the first to be introduced and perfected at the store, and it “continues to sell like mad,” outselling national brands also available at the store location by six to one, Bailey says.

Bailey describes the flavor as being “everything a Buffalo Wing should be, but we left out the celery.” When it came to choosing a Blue cheese, something that Yancey’s doesn’t produce itself, the choice was easy.

“I’m a huge fan of Danish Blue, and theirs in particular,” Bailey says of Arla’s Castello brand. “There is a lot of flavor in their cheese.”

Another sign the thick, rich spreads were going to be a hit was the fact that the company’s own sales team members would head to the factory store to buy them when they were in town.

“It got such favorable responses that we knew we’d be crazy not to roll it out,” Bailey says.

“They’re not smooth and creamy. They’re not a dip. They’re chunky; they’re basically something I’d make for guests.”

Brian Bailey

Yancey’s Fancy sampled the product line at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association show in June, soon followed by the Fancy Food Show. The company shipped its first order of spreads over the July Fourth holiday.

The company keeps adding new customers and, more importantly, is already getting regular repeat orders for the line. Sales have been steadily increasing, says Michael Best, marketing manager, Yancey’s Fancy.

Because Yancey’s Fancy is particularly known for its wide variety of flavors, it’s perhaps inevitable the company already is getting questions about what flavored spreads are next. There are a few more in the hopper, but customers will have to be patient, Bailey says.

“We wanted to have more than one, but not walk out with six,” Bailey says. “This is a nice manageable rollout.”

A newly constructed plant that Yancey’s Fancy moved some of its operations into three years ago has made the dream of the spreads come alive, and other new products a possibility. In 2016, the company moved its process cheese manufacturing to a new 112,000-square-foot facility located just three-quarters of a mile from its original facility in upstate New York. With the move of the process lines complete, the company now is able to expand its natural cheese production and begin cheese spread production at its original facility. The past couple of years have seen significant equipment investments, Best says.

“Some days it seems like too much, but most days it seems like we’re just getting started.”

Brian Bailey

While the company is investing in new equipment, Bailey also is cognizant of rolling out the spread line in a streamlined manner because it is a different product than others the company produces.

“It’s early on, and we’re training people, and we don’t want to invest in too much new equipment,” he says.

That said, there are more flavors the company will introduce down the line, including “some really cool ones,” Bailey adds.

In addition to spreads, Yancey’s Fancy also is considering some spin-off products, the details of which are firmly under wraps at this time.

“Cheese is a diverse canvas to operate off of. This is our first foray away from our normal operations, but we’re always looking to keep our customers excited and interested,” Bailey says.

While the spreads have received the bulk of the company’s innovation attention in 2019, last year Yancey’s Fancy also released three new flavored cheeses: Apple Pie Cheddar, Bergenost with Caraway & Scallion, and Swiss with Sundried Tomato & Bacon.

Yancey’s Fancy always has four to five new concepts in the works, according to Bailey.

“Some days it seems like too much,” he says of the company’s constant innovation, “but most days it seems like we’re just getting started.”

“We want people to say ‘wow, that’s creamy’ or ‘wow, that’s good,’ or even ‘wow, that’s not good’ — but at least you said ‘wow.’”

Brian Bailey

Bailey adds that Yancey’s Fancy always focuses on the “wow” factor when developing its new products.

Sometimes that means a product turns out to be a wild success, and other times not so much.

“We want people to say ‘wow, that’s creamy’ or ‘wow, that’s good,’ or even ‘wow, that’s not good’ — but at least you said ‘wow,’” Bailey says.

While sometimes a flavor is a flop, more often than not the company experiences successes — even if it means not retiring a cheese flavor because of a small but particularly strong consumer demand for a certain flavor.

The company also does well in competitions. This past summer at the New York State Fair, Yancey’s Fancy’s Chastinet won a gold medal and went on to win the contest’s overall grand champion award, while its Bergenost Triple Cream Danish-style cheese received an award of excellence.

In addition, at the American Cheese Society competition this summer, the company’s Hickory Smoked Cheddar won a second-place award.

While introducing new flavors and a new spread line, the company has simultaneously installed state-of-the art cutting and labeling machines so that it can offer exact weight wedges for the entire breadth of its natural cheese product line. Its natural cheeses now are offered in a 7.6-ounce size, except for its Asiago-style Chastinet cheese, which is available in a 6-ounce size.

“Most customers prefer the exact weight format, and we want to be accommodating.”

Brian Bailey

“Most customers prefer the exact weight format, and we want to be accommodating,” Bailey says.

The new equipment also increases the company’s production capacity, reduces the need for labor and is less physically demanding for employees, Bailey says.

As if that all weren’t enough, the company also has almost completed its move into its new headquarters at the new plant. The new headquarters provides better facilities for sales and marketing functions as well as administrative functions, Best says.

Meanwhile, the company rolled out an updated look for its labels this past summer, with the labels now featuring a bold, more unified appearance. Ingredients and UPC symbols are moved to the back of the packaging to allow for bolder, more colorful graphics on the front. All of the company’s labels and products will be rebranded by next year, Bailey says.

In addition to marketing its products at trade shows, the company continues to be involved in a number of other marketing efforts including being a presenting sponsor of the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, the cheese sponsor of the San Diego Wine Festival and a contributing sponsor of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits.



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