Wisconsin still takes the cheese in cheese production, but the Dairy State is also the nation's leader in specialty cheeses. Last month Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen announced that specialty cheese production in the state for 2005 rose 7% above the previous year totaling 355 million lbs.
"I commend Wisconsin's cheese makers for competing at the high end," said Nilsestuen. "Our cheese makers are meeting consumer demands for bold flavors, signature cheeses and specialty products."
A study released by the USDA confirms the steady increase in Wisconsin's specialty cheese sector. Specialty cheeses, a value-added product, command a premium price for their unique qualities.
Wisconsin cheesemakers now produce more than 500 styles and types of cheeses, and 77 of the 115 cheese plants in Wisconsin are today manufacturing at least one type of specialty cheese.