Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Chevre… the language of cheese has a decidedly French accent! It’s only natural, considering that the French have created more kinds of cheese, or fromage, than any other country in the world. To help familiarize Americans with the French cheesemaking tradition and broad selection of French cheese imported into the United States, French dairy interests plan to put a French-twist on the specialty cheese renaissance in America.
Building The Cheeses of France BrandThe Centre National Interprofessionnel de l’Économie Laitière (CNIEL) has launched an initiative to promote the diverse selection of French cheeses imported into the United States. This is the first U.S.-based campaign undertaken by CNIEL, an organization representing French dairy interests. The U.S. campaign is led by The Cheeses of France Marketing Council, comprised of representatives of CNIEL and associated French organizations as well as the management team from its U.S. agency, Swardlick Marketing Group.
“Our goal is to expand the understanding of The Cheeses of France within the United States,” said Philippe Jachnik, International Affairs Counselor for CNIEL on behalf of the Cheeses of France Marketing Council. “We are so excited to be sharing with cheese-lovers around the world the uniqueness and diversity encompassing The Cheeses of France. There is a selection out there for everyone. Whether your palate seeks a unique nutty or sweet flavor, or a strong aromatic, brightly colored fromage is your preference, France produces an abundant variety worth celebrating.”
In order to strengthen France’s competitive position in the growing U.S. specialty cheese category, The Cheeses of France Marketing Council has developed a recognizable and appealing brand identity for the extensive and distinctive varieties of imported French cheeses.
The brand mark or “logo” created by Swardlick Marketing Group captures the strategic direction of promoting the entire category of cheeses that have their origin in France. Through branding, the campaign intends to make French the home language of the specialty cheese category, and begin to build top-of-mind awareness for all The Cheese of France.
Savor The Experience positions the brand promise of unique enjoyment that can only come from experiencing The Cheeses of France.
Parlez-Vous Fromage?The U.S. marketing initiative “Parlez-Vous Fromage” kicked off in July with a New York City launch event hosted by Chef Daniel Boulud at his namesake four-star restaurant, Daniel. The event also involved renowned U.S. cheese experts Rob Kaufelt, owner of New York City’s Murray’s Cheese and author of The Murray’s Cheese Handbook, and Max McCalman, Maitre Fromager and author of The Cheese Plate. The panel offered insights on the French tradition of fine cheesemaking and its influence on today’s culinary scene.
“France is back, and with the world’s best cheeses we’ve finally made it back from the ridiculous ‘freedom fries’ to the fabulous French fromages,” said Murray’s Rob Kaufelt.
Kaufelt and his staff at Murray’s committed to promoting The Cheeses of France for the month of July in their two New York City retail locations.
They transformed the look of their stores with The Cheeses of France campaign imagery, running specials and in-store activities with a distinctive French-flare. Murray’s trained staff conducted on-going samplings throughout the month in both store locations. They also ran cheese courses instructed by Laurent Mons, managing dir. of Maison Mons. The classes were designed to demystify the traditions and rules behind the A.O.C and taste some of France’s finest cheeses.
Murray’s own Chris Munsey ran classes introducing consumers to the art of pairing French cheese, not with wine, but with French beers.
Murray’s will soon bring their expertise national through a partnership with Kroger supermarkets. “There are wonderful cheeses here and abroad that deserve to be available to a broader market,” said Kaufelt. “Good cheese must be accessible to all of us here in America, as it has been in the cheese-producing countries for centuries.”
The campaign unfolded with media relations, industry discussions at the summer Fancy Food Show in NYC, the full month-long promotion at Murray’s Grand Central Station and Bleecker Street locations and a supermarket sampling effort across a number of retail chains in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Additionally, the campaign launched www.CheesesofFrance.com and released a newspaper food page feature targeting food page editors across the country. More promotions are in the works for the coming holiday season.
For more information visit www.CheesesofFrance.com or email The Cheeses of France Marketing Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terroir and AffinageFrance produces an abundant variety of cheese worth celebrating. The range of flavors and aromas are countless-fresh, nutty, bloomy, grassy, robust, meaty, fruity, luscious, creamy. At the heart of The Cheeses of France experience is the concept of terroir directly translated as “land,” terroir describes the combined influence of culture and environment on the taste and character of cheeses from different regions. The soil, the climate, the ancient breeds and cheesemaking traditions give each variety of cheese its distinctiveness. Some feature the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) designation that certifies and promotes the unique qualities of their regional terroir.
Whether using cow, goat or sheep’s milk, all The Cheeses of France need to age before being brought to market. This process is known as affinage. The ancient art of cheese ripening, or affinage, allows flavors to blend and intensify. The cheese ripeners, or affineurs, wash, rotate and nudge cheese along to perfection, carefully controlling the environment and conditions for ideal maturity and taste. Many varieties of cheese are aged in caves cut into French hillsides or built underground. Affinage is a highly regarded craft in France. The skills of the affineur are learned, refined and passed down over time, to the benefit of fromage lovers everywhere.
Bon Appetit!Here is a sampling of the signature French classics.
Brie Ile de France
Soft and creamy with full, mellow flavor and rich aroma.
Smaller than Brie and stronger in flavor, butter-textured with a few brown markings on the rind.
Cantal AOC Auvergne
Semi-hard with a gray-gold rind, hazelnut-tinged flavor, produced in 3 sizes of differing ages.
From the Jura mountains, ivory-colored with small holes, or eyes, and a complex, nutty flavor.
Made in wheels over 3 feet in diameter, with large holes, or eyes, and a sweet aroma and taste.
Époisses AOC Burgundy
Salty, creamy and strong-smelling cheese, washed with marc de Bourgogne spirit.
Fresh Cheeses Centre
Fresh and velvety soft, often flavored with a variety of herbs and spices and crafted throughout many cheese regions.
Goat’s Cheeses Poitou-Charentes
Pure white, crafted in a variety of shapes, flavors and textures, from moist and creamy to dry and semi-firm, from many regions of France.
Mimolette Pas de Calais
Bright orange, with a unique pitted crusty rind and a sharp, nutty taste when aged.
Morbier AOC Franche-Comté
Mild and aromatic, with a distinctive ash-black furrow through its center.
Munster AOC Alsace
Soft, washed rind, with a powerful beefy, nutty flavor and highly aromatic rind.
Ossau-Iraty AOC Pays Basque
Made from ewe’s milk, aged 3-6 months for a firm, creamy body and rich, earthy flavor.
Roquefort AOC Midi-Pyrénées
Ivory white with greenish-blue veins, buttery but crumbly with a savory, salty flavor.
Soft, bloomy rind, creamy with a robust nutty, fruity flavor when ripe.
Mild, semi-soft and supple with a sweet flavor of butter and walnut, and a pale yellow rind.