Organic and natural dairy, health and wellness, deregulation, and food safety will be among the topics discussed when the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference returns to the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis., April 18-19.




Organic and natural dairy, health and wellness, deregulation, and food safety will be among the topics discussed when the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference returns to the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis., April 18-19.

More than 1,200 cheese industry leaders from around the nation will gather to gain information about the latest in cheese technology, product marketing and dairy issues affecting our industry. Speakers and panelists include a who’s-who of cheese industry and academia experts.

The conference, co-sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (WCDR), will open Wednesday morning, April 18, with a joint seminar, followed by an afternoon Tabletop Mini Exposition and an evening of fun with the auction of Champion Cheeses. Thursday, April 19 will consist of a full day of seminars. The conference will close Thursday evening with the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest Awards Banquet, open to all attendees. Those cheeses were judged in January in Milwaukee. 




New this year

In addition to being listed alphabetically, WCIC exhibitors will have the opportunity to be listed by category in the WCIC Official Program. Exhibitors may be listed under all categories that apply to their company, allowing attendees to quickly access a list of exhibitors offering the products and services they need.

The Tabletop Mini Exposition will expand to 165 booths this year, making this the largest at WCIC.




Program details

Niche Markets - Myths and Reality: Milk is milk? The dairy industry is marketing its wholesome raw material in an ever-growing number of ways. This session explores growing niches for milk types - organic, grass-fed, sustainable, natural, raw milk, rBGH-free - and their application in cheese and butter. The goal of this discussion is to discern marketing imagery from verifiable selling points.

Cheese Health and Wellness: Consumers continue to ask for ‘good-for-you’ products. Cheese has the potential to surpass yogurt and dairy beverages as dairy’s star ‘good-for-you’ food. Naturally occurring attributes make cheese an ideal delivery vehicle for nutraceuticals. Check out the opportunities to create added value for cheese manufacturers and consumers.

Deregulating Dairy: Within years, market forces may render federal milk marketing orders irrelevant. Dairy economists and milk buyers will discuss pricing and procuring mild without government classified pricing; the impact of deregulation on farm gate milk prices; competition for milk; and agencies or state systems that could arise in the wake of deregulation.

Emergency Preparedness: Preparation for emergencies in the dairy industry has evolved beyond discussion. Today, county-by-county exercises are testing emergency plans in case of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, BSE finding or intentional contamination. At the same time, a dairy communications network WARN (Wisconsin Agro-Security Resource Network) is in place to provide information and support to manufacturers. Each dairy manufacturer should commit at least one key staff member to understanding today’s federal and local government plans for emergencies, as well as industry support tools.

For information about the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference or to  register online, visit www.wischeesemakersassn.org or call 608/828-4550.




WCIC Schedule at a Glance

Tuesday, April 17
3:00 to 7:00 p.m. - Registration open

Wednesday, April 18
9:00 a.m. to noon - Opening Session
Noon to 1:00 p.m. - DSM Food Specialties Lunch
12:30 to 5:00 p.m. - Tabletop Expo
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. - Chr. Hansen Reception & Championship Cheese Auction

Thursday, April 19
9:00 a.m. to noon - Concurrent Sessions
Noon to 1:00 p.m. - Danisco Lunch
1:30 to 4:00 p.m. - Concurrent Sessions
5:00 to 6:00 p.m. - Cargill Champions Reception
6:00 to 8:00 p.m. - United States Championship Awards Banquet