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USTR, dairy groups criticize Canada’s latest TRQ proposal

May 20, 2022

WASHINGTON — Canada’s government this week announced its latest policies on dairy tariff-rate quotas (TRQs), prompting outcry from the U.S. dairy industry and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), who argue that Canada continues to ignore its TRQ commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA).

According to the Office of the USTR, a TRQ applies a preferential rate of duty to an “in-quota” quantity of imports and a different rate to imports above that in-quota quantity. Under USMCA, Canada has the right to maintain 14 TRQs on the following types of dairy products: milk, cream, skim milk powder, butter and cream powder, industrial cheeses, cheeses of all types, milk powders, concentrated or condensed milk, yogurt and buttermilk, powdered buttermilk, whey powder, products consisting of natural milk constituents, ice cream and ice cream mixes, and other dairy.

In notices to importers that Canada published in June and October 2020 and May 2021 for dairy TRQs, Canada set aside and reserved a percentage of the quota for processors and so-called “further processors,” contrary to Canada’s USMCA commitments, USTR explains. As a result of this restriction, USTR says Canada has been undermining the value of its dairy TRQs for U.S. farmers and exporters since entry into force of the USMCA by limiting access to in-quota quantities negotiated under the agreement.

In January, a USMCA panel agreed with the United States that Canada’s allocation of dairy TRQs, specifically the set-aside percentage of each dairy TRQ exclusively for Canadian processors, is inconsistent with Canada’s commitment in Article 3.A.2.11(b) of the USMCA not to “limit access to an allocation to processors.” The panel additionally found that the agreement makes no distinction between initial processors and “further processors,” and that therefore, the restriction in Article 3.A.2.11(b) applies to all processors, including specific subsets.

“The United States is deeply disappointed by Canada’s announcement (Monday) regarding its dairy tariff-rate quotas,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says, adding that she also has communicated this directly to Canada. “To date, we have not seen the promises by Canada in the USMCA fully realized. We will evaluate all options and work with stakeholders and members of Congress as we determine our next steps in the coming days.”

In response to Canada’s announcement, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have called on the U.S. government to levy retaliatory tariffs on Canada, noting that this week’s announcement shows no indication Canada intends to comply with its USMCA commitments on dairy TRQs.

“Canada made a clear choice to thumb its nose at both the United States government and its international treaty obligations. It has completely disregarded the USMCA agreement signed just a few short years ago,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF. “Ottawa’s decision (Monday) is clearly designed to test our resolve by doubling down on its longstanding dairy trade violations, ignoring both the spirit and the letter of its trade agreements. That decision demands retaliatory action by the U.S. government. Otherwise our trade agreements will be seen as toothless before the ink is dry.”

USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden says retaliatory tariffs are both fair and necessary in this circumstance, as clearly provided for by USMCA.

“USTR, USDA and scores of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have worked diligently to ensure American dairy farmers and manufacturers benefit from USMCA. They deserve our deepest thanks for bringing us this far,” Harden says. “Unfortunately, Canada simply refuses to institute real reform, and such actions must have consequences.”

USDEC and NMPF had filed public comments on the matter with Global Affairs Canada on April 19, urging Canada to consider its larger interest in the success of the trade agreement and “modify its dairy TRQ allocation and administration policies to give effect in good faith to its commitments.”

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) also says it rejects Canada’s changes to how dairy TRQs are allocated under USMCA and is calling on the Office of the USTR to hold Canada accountable.

“The U.S. dairy industry has made clear from the start that U.S. dairy exporters demand real TRQ reform that will permit the market access Canada agreed to. The U.S. met with Canada a week ago on this very matter and expected a good faith effort,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO, IDFA. “Instead, Canada continues to deny U.S. dairy products from reaching their full capacity under the terms of the deal and continues to deny the existence of any obligations.”

Following the dispute panel’s finding in January, Canada released a proposal in March that made minimal changes and continued to fall well short of Canada’s USMCA commitments, IDFA says. IDFA has continued to call for the following policy options: Allow retailers to serve as importers; remove allocations that focus on processors; and encourage new TRQ entrants, among others. IDFA has called on USTR to consider a wide range of retaliatory responses, advocated for TRQ reform and urged the U.S. government to evaluate disputing Canada’s subsidized milk protein exports under World Trade Organization rules.

“Canada cannot be permitted to blatantly disregard their trade obligations after having been found non-compliant by a neutral and expert panel, only to then ignore their obligations without consequence,” Dykes says.

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative also is urging U.S. officials to reject Canada’s latest TRQ proposal. Among other things, Edge says, the plan would not allow U.S. exporters to ship directly to the lucrative retail sector — a major concern for Edge’s members throughout the Midwest.

“We are disappointed to see that Canada has not changed its tune regarding the country’s dairy tariff-rate quotas. Since signing the USMCA, Canada has worked to undermine the spirit of the agreement’s dairy provisions,” says Brody Stapel, president of Edge, the third largest dairy co-op in the United States. “Improved access to the country’s dairy market was meant to be beneficial for the U.S. dairy industry and Canadian consumers alike, but our northern neighbors continue to put up roadblocks.”

CMN


U.S. government takes action to address infant formula shortage

May 20, 2022

WASHINGTON — President Biden this week invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure that U.S. manufacturers have the necessary ingredients to make safe, healthy infant formula. The president is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good. Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up supply chains, the White House said Wednesday.

Additionally, the White House is launching “Operation Fly Formula” to speed up the import of infant formula and get more formula to stores as soon as possible. Biden has directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA to use Department of Defense (DOD) commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards so it can get to store shelves faster. DOD will use its contracts with commercial air cargo lines, as it did to move materials during the early months of the COVID pandemic, to transport products from manufacturing facilities abroad that have met FDA safety standards. The White House notes bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production.

FDA earlier this week announced a guidance document for the industry to help increase the supply of infant formula. FDA intends to temporarily exercise enforcement discretion with respect to certain requirements for infant formulas that may not comply with certain statutory and regulatory requirements and is seeking information from manufacturers regarding the safety and nutritional adequacy of their products.

The guidance document is intended to explain factors that FDA intends to consider in making case-by-case determinations about whether to exercise enforcement discretion to allow the introduction into interstate commerce, including importation, of infant formula that is safe and nutritionally adequate but may not comply with all statutory and regulatory requirements. The guidance also is intended to advise infant formula manufacturers about the type of information to provide to FDA if they would like the agency to consider whether to exercise enforcement discretion with regard to particular products.

The guidance, which is being implemented immediately, will remain in effect until Nov. 14, 2022, and FDA will evaluate whether any extension is necessary. The guidance can be viewed at www.fda.gov/media/158476/download.

Also earlier this week, FDA and Abbott agreed on next steps to reopen Abbott’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan, which was closed due to concerns about bacterial contamination after four infants fell ill.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint and the proposed consent decree Monday. The complaint alleged that Abbott manufactured powdered infant formula under conditions and using practices that failed to comply with regulations designed to ensure the quality and safety of infant formula, including protection against the risk of contamination from bacteria such as Cronobacter sakazakii, which had been found in the facility.

Abbott has agreed to resolve the complaint in its proposed consent decree of permanent injunction. Under the consent decree, Abbott must retain outside expert assistance to bring its facility into compliance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and good manufacturing practice regulations.

“Our No. 1 priority is getting infants and families the high-quality formulas they need, and this is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage. We look forward to working with the FDA to quickly and safely re-open the facility,” says Robert B. Ford, chairman and CEO, Abbott. “We know millions of parents and caregivers depend on us, and we’re deeply sorry that our voluntary recall worsened the nationwide formula shortage.”

Abbott also notes that after a thorough investigation by FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the company itself, and review of all available data, there was no conclusive evidence to link Abbott’s formulas to reported infant illnesses.

Since the recall, Abbott adds that it has taken numerous measures to mitigate the supply shortage, such as focusing on production in its Cootehill, Ireland, facility, air shipping millions of cans of infant formula powder from this plant into the United States. It also has worked with USDA and WIC agencies, paying rebates on competitive products in states where Abbott holds the WIC contract, when Similac is not available. Additionally, Abbott says it has prioritized infant formula production at its Columbus, Ohio, facility and ramped up production at its other U.S. manufacturing site in Casa Grande, Arizona, running its facilities at full capacity to help replenish the supply.

Abbott says once FDA confirms the initial requirements for start-up have been met, it could restart its Sturgis site within two weeks. The company would begin production of EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas first and then begin production of Similac and other formulas. From the time Abbott restarts the site, it will take six to eight weeks before product is available on shelves, the company adds.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland says the actions detailed in the consent decree will help to safely increase the supply of baby formula for families.

“The Justice Department will vigorously enforce the laws ensuring the safety of our food and other essential consumer products, and we will work alongside our partners across government to help make sure those products are available to the American people.”

The Justice Department also says this proposed consent decree is part of its broader work to address the current infant formula shortage. As part of these efforts, U.S. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta this week sent a letter to state attorneys general urging them to use their state-law authorities to ensure that vulnerable families are not taken advantage of during this time and encouraging them to contact the department with any evidence of collusive price fixing, bid rigging or market allocation.

Around the world, other manufacturers have stepped in to help contribute to the U.S. supply. Nestlé confirmed this week that it has brought in Gerber Good Start Extensive HA from the Netherlands and Alfamino from Switzerland for Nestlé Health Science.

“We prioritized these products because they serve a critical medical purpose as they are for babies with cow’s milk protein allergies,” a Nestlé spokesperson says in a statement provided to Cheese Market News. “Of note, both products were already being imported, so we were able to act quickly. We moved shipments up and rushed via air to help fill immediate needs.”

Additionally, given FDA’s announcement that aims to give companies temporary flexibility with regard to the import of certain infant formulas, Nestlé says it is reviewing the guidance and assessing where it may be able to tap into the Nestlé global nutrition network to help.

CMN


April milk production falls 0.9% from same period year earlier

May 20, 2022

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states in April totaled 18.30 billion pounds, down 0.9% from April 2021, according to data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). For the entire United States, April milk production was estimated at 19.15 billion pounds, down 1.0% from April 2021. (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)

NASS reports March’s revised production for the 24 major states totaled 18.84 billion pounds, an increase of 23 million pounds or 0.1% from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

April production per cow in the 24 major states averaged 2,054 pounds, 1 pound less than April 2021 and 60 pounds less than March. For the entire United States, production per cow in April is estimated at 2,037 pounds, unchanged from April 2021 and down 60 pounds from March.

NASS reports the number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.91 million head in April, down 78,000 head from April 2021 and unchanged from March. In the entire United States, there were an estimated 9.40 million milk cows in April, 98,000 cows less than April 2021 and unchanged from March.

California led the nation’s milk production in April with 3.62 billion pounds of milk, down 0.6% from April 2021. Wisconsin followed with 2.64 billion pounds of milk produced in April, down 0.1% from April 2021.

CMN



Widmer’s Cheese Cellars celebrates 100 years of cheesemaking

THERESA, Wis. — In late June, Theresa, Wisconsin, population 1,120, holds a community get-together with a brat fry, music, and this year a special celebration marking the 100th anniversary of Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, which will be an event sponsor.

The fourth-generation, family-run business has been calling out its century milestone all year, adding a 100th anniversary sticker to its cheeses, selling T-shirts and hanging a banner over the village’s main street.

“Everyone who drives through Theresa will see it. There’s also a banner on our building and a lot of mentions on social media, where we’re posting old historical photos from our public library,” says Joey Widmer, vice president of operations, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars. “Each day we’re putting up a new post on the history of the Village of Theresa and trying to tie it back to our cheesemaking.”

• Building Brick

Widmer’s great-grandfather, John O. Widmer, immigrated from Switzerland when he was 18. He apprenticed in various cheese factories in Dodge County, learning the craft and eventually buying the plant in Theresa to start his own business in 1922. Widmer’s Cheese Cellars remains in that same building, which was expanded in 2004 and again in 2016 to add more packaging area and cooler space.

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Governments, industry groups address global supply issues

May 13, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended global food supply chains, raised prices for inputs, energy and finished food products, and exacerbated nutrition insecurity in countries around the world, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says. Earlier this week, IDFA hosted leaders of the European Dairy Association (EDA) in IDFA’s Washington, D.C., offices to discuss these shared global challenges and what the dairy industry can do to help.

IDFA and EDA issued the following joint statement: “The dairy processing associations of the United States and Europe condemn the war in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s brutal invasion. We join the international community in calling for peace and the preservation of human rights for the people of a sovereign, independent Ukraine. Russia’s attack on Ukraine and damage to critical lines of commerce has shocked our global food supply chain and heightened the specter of famine and hunger for the world’s most vulnerable citizens. This crisis requires ongoing humanitarian action and support by our respective governments and civil society organizations. IDFA and EDA are committed to keeping lines of communication open between our two organizations, and we will continue to work together to provide nutritious dairy products to people around the globe who are facing rising prices, food shortages and hunger.”

Washington-based IDFA is led by President and CEO Michael Dykes, and EDA, based in Brussels, Belgium, is led by President Giuseppe Ambrosi.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden addressed supply chain disruptions and increasing food prices resulting from the pandemic as well as the war in Ukraine. During a visit to O’Connor Farm in Kankakee, Illinois, Biden announced actions his administration is taking to support American farmers, reduce food prices and feed the world.

“Right now, America is fighting on two fronts. At home, it’s inflation and rising prices. Abroad, it’s helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry around the world because Russian atrocities exist,” Biden said during his visit.

He noted that the war in Ukraine has cut off a critical source of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds and cooking oil, as well as disrupted global supply chains for fertilizer, which farmers depend on to maximize yields. These and other actions, combined with the ongoing pandemic-related disruptions to global supply chains, have put pressure on food prices, with global food prices increasing nearly 13% following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, the administration announced it would allow E15 gasoline — using a 15% ethanol blend — to be sold this summer, and this week Biden announced new actions to give farmers more tools and resources to boost production and lower food prices. Specifically, the administration will increase the number of counties eligible for double cropping insurance to help boost production by allowing farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year; cut costs for farmers by increasing technical assistance for technology-driven “precision agriculture” and other nutrient management tools; and provide increased funding for domestic fertilizer production.

“We can make sure that American agriculture exports will make up for the gap in Ukrainian supplies,” Biden said, adding that last year American agriculture exports reached a record $177 billion.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) says it supports these new efforts.

“The Biden administration’s promise to double down on USDA efforts to diversify domestic fertilizer markets is promising, and we look forward to providing input on how to do this most effectively,” NFU President Rob Larew says. “We appreciate the administration’s efforts to create more crop insurance options and flexibility for farmers as we face difficult planting conditions and mounting global instability. We will continue to work with the USDA to identify the best policy options to help farmers across the country meet these challenges.”

Meanwhile, as part of the European Union’s (EU) solidarity response with Ukraine, the European Commission on Thursday also presented a set of actions to help Ukraine export its agricultural produce. Following Russia’s invasion and blockade of Ukrainian ports, Ukrainian grain and other agricultural goods no longer can reach their destinations, threatening global food security, the commission says. Therefore, there is an urgent need to establish alternative logistic routes using all relevant modes of transportation.

The European Commission plans to establish “Solidarity Lanes,” adding additional transport vehicles, prioritizing Ukrainian agricultural export shipments and working to remove bottlenecks. The commission also will work to secure more temporary storage capacity for Ukrainian exports and to establish new infrastructure connections in the framework of the reconstruction of Ukraine.

The commission notes under normal circumstances, 75% of Ukraine’s grain production is exported.

“Twenty million (metric) tons of grains have to leave Ukraine in less than three months using the EU infrastructure. This is a gigantesque challenge, so it is essential to coordinate and optimize the logistic chains, put in place new routes and avoid, as much as possible, the bottlenecks,” says EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean. “For both short-term and long-term solutions, we will work with the Ukrainian authorities and in close collaboration, especially with the neighboring member states, who spared no effort in helping during this crisis.”

CMN


Wisconsin Ag Export Advisory Council holds inaugural meeting

May 13, 2022

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) held the first Wisconsin Agricultural Export Advisory Council meeting May 4 at WEDC headquarters here. This council helps guide the initiatives created through the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports (WIAE), a collaborative project between DATCP and WEDC and proposed in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget to promote the export of Wisconsin’s agricultural products.

During the meeting, the council, along with DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski and WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes, discussed current export trends, opportunities for increasing Wisconsin agricultural exports and trade challenges.

Council members also were able to learn more about current and planned WIAE activities and how DATCP and WEDC continue to work together on growing Wisconsin exports. The meeting provided a platform for industry representatives to discuss future opportunities for collaboration across product sectors and the future of the WIAE.

“Gov. Evers invested in Wisconsin agricultural exporters to connect Wisconsin’s quality dairy products, crops, specialty crops, genetics and meat products with the growing interest in international markets,” says DATCP Secretary Romanski. “This council of industry representatives and policymakers will be a valuable tool in supporting Wisconsin’s agricultural export growth as we strive to meet the benchmarks outlined in the WIAE. (The) meeting demonstrated that Wisconsin’s agriculture industry is motivated to share our commodities with the world and that we can find ways to overcome trade challenges by working together.”

During the meeting, members elected Charles Wachsmuth, Chippewa Valley Bean, as chair and Chad Vincent, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, as vice chair. The council will meet at least twice per year and will serve as a sounding board for DATCP and WEDC. Meetings are open to the public and are expected to have virtual attendance options. The council includes international trade experts from WEDC and DATCP, state legislators, and agriculture organizations and agribusinesses representing crop, dairy and meat products. For a list of council members and their biographies, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Documents2/WIAE-WAXCBios.pdf.

CMN


USDA ups 2022 milk production, cheese and butter price forecasts

May 13, 2022

WASHINGTON — USDA’s 2022 milk production forecast is raised 400 million pounds from the previous month to 226.7 billion pounds, with higher milk cow inventories more than offsetting slower growth in milk per cow, according to the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released this week.

Fat-basis exports for 2022 are raised from the previous month mainly on stronger butter and cheese shipments. The 2022 skim-solids basis export forecast is lowered on weaker skim milk powder and whey exports, USDA says. Fat basis and skim-solids basis import forecasts are raised from last month on higher expected imports of a number of dairy-containing products.

Cheese and butter price forecasts for 2022 are raised from the previous month on strong demand. Cheese now is forecast to average $2.175 per pound, up from $2.150 forecast last month, while butter now is forecast to average $2.650, up from $2.640.

Nonfat dry milk (NDM) and whey price forecasts for 2022 are lowered to $1.715 and $0.655 per pound, respectively. Both Class III and Class IV forecasts are lowered to $22.75 and $23.80 per hundredweight, respectively, while the 2022 all milk price is forecast at $25.75, down a nickel from last month.

USDA also included projections for 2023 in this month’s report. Milk production for 2023 is forecast at 229.5 billion pounds, driven by gains in milk per cow, with the milk cow herd expected to average close to 2022 levels. Exports on a fat basis are forecast lower, largely on lower expected butter sales. On a skim-solids basis, exports are forecast higher with gains expected in cheese, skim milk powder and whey sales. Imports are projected to grow on a skim-solids basis, with higher imports of a number of dairy products, but are unchanged on a fat basis.

Price forecasts for 2023 are lowered from 2022 for cheese, butter NDM and whey. The Class III price for 2023 is forecast lower on weaker cheese and whey prices. The Class IV price is forecast lower as well, while the 2023 all milk price is forecast at $23.55 per hundredweight, down from the 2022 forecast.

CMN


Changing seasons add unique qualities, flavors to cheeses

May 6, 2022

By Taylor Froelich

MADISON, Wis. — Changing seasons bring changing flora which results in a wide variety of additional flavors imbued in the milk of cows, sheep and goats that graze in spring and summer fields. This allows small cheesemakers to offer a diverse selection of cheeses year round with the seasonal milk used to make the cheese providing different notes to each product.

“Certainly goat and sheep milk are popular spring cheeses ... cheeses made from the spring have hints of floral and wild onion flavors,” says David Gremmels, president and head cheesemaker at Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon.
Rogue Creamery’s most recent seasonal release is Flora Nelle Blue. The cheese was reintroduced this year after it was taken out of the creamery’s rotation in 2018.

“For this recipe, I was inspired by the consistency of the classic Bleu de Gex and flavor Bleu d’Auvergne. I combined the recipes and created an American original that is loved by chefs and connoisseurs. It is a tribute to our families and particularly to my grandmother, Nelle,” Gremmels says.

“Flora Nelle’s natural rind and traditional rennet produce a distinctive blue marbling with a layered, spicy and savory flavor experience,” says Marguerite Merritt, cheese emissary and marketing manager at Rogue Creamery.

Flora Nelle Blue pairs well with fresh baby greens and organic olive oil and honey vinaigrette for a summer salad or with grilled peaches and a balsamic vinegar.

“These are both simple, delicious dishes and excellent when prepared with our Flora Nelle Blue,” Merritt says.

“The semi-soft natural rind American original Blue cheese is most popular in the spring and often shared in the spring holidays, including Mother’s Day,” Gremmels adds.

The fall seasonal cheese Rogue Creamery offers is Rogue River Blue. It is created with organic cow’s milk collected the previous fall and then aged for nearly a year, creating a fudgy rich cheese with calcium lactate crystals that develop with age.

Rogue River Blue was named World Champion in the 2019/20 World Cheese Awards and is the first and only U.S.-made cheese to receive this award.

“(It) is one of the most passionately awaited seasonal cheeses on the market. We release it each year on the autumnal equinox,” says Merritt.

Rogue Creamery’s Spring Cheese gift box has an eighth-wheel of Flora Nelle Blue in addition to a block of Cheese Is Love Extra-Aged Cheddar, Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies by Rustic Bakery, Honey Sticks from Jacobsen Co. and a limited-edition Rogue Creamery Swedish Dishcloth.

Flora Nelle Blue also can be purchased online or from Rogue Creamery’s cheese shop.

Andy Hatch, co-owner and cheesemaker at Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, takes a different approach to seasonal cheeses.

Uplands Cheese only offers two cheeses sourced from its dairy farms: Pleasant Ridge and Rush Creek.

Pleasant Ridge is a seasonal cheese that only is made May-November, when the cows graze in summer pastures. The milk produced in the summer and early fall months offers a “savory, nutty flavor with a rich salty finish” to the cheese, Hatch says.

The cheese is aged between eight and 14 months; so although it is made with summer milk, it only is available in the winter season.

The Alpine-style cheese is similar to Gruyere or Comte and pairs well with savory accompaniments such as garlic and onion, rosemary and thyme.

Pleasant Ridge is one of the most-awarded cheeses in American history with three American Cheese Society annual competition Best of Show awards (2001, 2005 and 2010) and the U.S. Cheese Championship in 2003.

Uplands Cheese Rush Creek Reserve is produced only in the fall, when the cows’ diet transitions from summer pasture to the winter’s dry hay. The rich milk produced makes a cheese “so soft and decadent that it’s often referred to as a savory custard,” Hatch says. Additionally, Rush Creek is wrapped in spruce bark to impart a subtle woodsy flavor.

Both Rush Creek and Pleasant Ridge are available in a variety of holiday gift boxes, offering a taste of both seasons in the winter months, as they are most popular between November-January, says Hatch.

While Rogue Creamery and Uplands Cheese specialize in cow-milk seasonal cheeses, other cheesemakers feature fresh goat milk cheese or Chevre as a popular summertime option.

LaClare Creamery offers a wide variety of fresh and aged Chevre in different flavors that see popularity in the warmer months.

“Our more popular summer flavors include Blueberry Vanilla, Chipotle Honey, Honey and Garlic & Herb. Anything that can tie consumers to the season — fresh flowers (honey) and fresh herbs always please,” says Patrick Considine, national director of sales for LaClare Creamery.

All of the company’s cheeses are made with goat milk from nearby farms, allowing for a higher-quality better-tasting cheese through the modest distance and minimal disruption between farm and factory, Considine says.

This year, LaClare Creamery will introduce a new Rolled Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese Log. It is based on the Original Blueberry Vanilla recipe, but rolled in dried blueberries as inspired by the holiday seasonal cheese, Cranberry Cinnamon, which is rolled in dried cranberries.

“Our fresh goat cheese’s fresh flavor makes it a summertime favorite. Some of our distinct Chevre flavors — particularly original Blueberry Vanilla, Fig & Honey, and Garlic & Herb — have been warm weather picks for years,” Considine notes.

The company also sees increased demand for crumbled Chevre to add a fresh light cheese flavor to salads.

LaClare Goat Mozzarella and Goat Jack cheese work well for backyard barbecues and side dishes and also provides consumers with the option to pick between hard or soft goat cheese while still enjoying summertime flavors.

“Because our Chevre lends itself to both savory and sweet flavor enhancements, it’s an ideal product for exploring new seasonal creations. We are constantly pondering unique, delicious and fun ways to enhance our original Chevre,” adds Considine.

As part of seasonal offerings, LaClare Creamery also makes a mixed milk Chandoka cheese and a Cave-Aged Chandoka. Chandoka offers a buttery sweet flavor, lighter than the deeper stronger notes of Cave-Aged.

The company recommends serving flavored Chevre on its own or paired with crackers to fully experience the seasonal flavors of goat cheese. The company’s website offers a Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese Pudding, Garlic & Herb Goat Cheese and Tomato Tartlets or Original Goat Cheese on a salad as summer recipes to bring out the flavor of its wide variety of cheeses.

“Due to their popularity with consumers, these cheeses have gone beyond the seasonal offering and are now a part of our permanent lineup of fresh goat cheese flavors,” says Considine.

CMN


Sargento Foods will acquire String producer Baker Cheese

May 6, 2022

PLYMOUTH, Wis. — Sargento Foods this week announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire St. Cloud, Wisconsin-based, family-owned Baker Cheese Factory Inc.

Sargento says Baker Cheese shares its values and passion for cheese, adding that as consumers seek more “on-the-go” options, cheese snacking has become one of the fastest-growing sections of the cheese category with no sign of slowing.

This acquisition will enable Sargento to better serve consumers by adding to the wide variety of sliced, shredded and snack natural cheese products already offered by Sargento.

“Throughout our history we have always looked for new ways to build long-term stakeholder value. We welcome Baker Cheese and its employees to the Sargento family. This is a great opportunity and will allow us to continue our industry-leading growth in the marketplace,” says Louie Gentine, third-generation CEO of Sargento Foods. “We take pride in our track record of successful innovation and look forward to unlocking new pathways for our portfolio, processes and employees.”

Founded in 1916, Baker Cheese is known for its high-quality Mozzarella String cheese, which is sold in all 50 states. Its cheese production has grown aggressively in the past 20 years, and Baker Cheese is one of the top String cheese companies in the United States.

“We believe Sargento has the right culture, capabilities and commitment to innovation to grow our business for generations to come,” says Brian Baker, fourth-generation CEO of Baker Cheese. “Our award-winning String cheese and commitment to service and quality aligns with everything Sargento seeks to accomplish. We welcome this important step toward our future.”

Since 1953, Sargento has grown to be a leader in cheese through its focus on innovation and the strength of its culture, the company says. As privately held companies, Sargento and Baker will not disclose any financial details of the sale. Baker Cheese employs 250 people in St. Cloud, Wisconsin, while Sargento has more than 2,000 employees at its four Wisconsin locations as well as a remote sales team across the United States. This acquisition will not displace any employees, Sargento says.

CMN


Cheese production in March rises 1.1% from March 2021

May 6, 2022

WASHINGTON — U.S. cheese production, excluding cottage cheese, in March totaled 1.197 billion pounds, up 1.1% from March 2021’s 1.183 billion pounds, according to data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Dairy Production chart.) March’s total was up 8.3% from February’s 1.105 billion pounds, but down 2.2% on an average daily basis.

Italian-type cheese production in March totaled 512.8 million pounds, up 2.1% from March 2021. Production of Mozzarella, the largest component of Italian-type cheese production, totaled 406.4 million pounds in March, up 3.5% from a year earlier.

American-type cheese production in March totaled 473.6 million pounds, down 1.4% from March 2021. Production of Cheddar, the largest component of American-type cheese, totaled 327.1 million pounds in March, down 2.9% from March 2021.

Wisconsin was the leading cheese-producing state with 296.6 million pounds produced in March, down 3.0% from March 2021. California produced the second most cheese in March at 213.0 million pounds, up 1.0% from a year earlier.

U.S. production of butter totaled 202.6 million pounds in March, up 1.5% from March 2021. March U.S. butter production was up 10.4% from February’s 199.6 million pounds but down 0.3% on an average daily basis. California led the nation in butter production with 69.7 million pounds in March, up 11.4% from March 2021.

CMN


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May 25, 2022


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Cheese Production
U.S. Total March
1.197 bil. lbs.


Milk Production
U.S. Total April
19.150 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Three trends in processing to know to grow business in 2022

Tammy Brzeczkowski, Dynamic Designs Unlimited LLC

Demand deserves our respect

Dustin Winston, StoneX Group Inc.

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