Show Preview and Cheese Trend News

April 22-23, 2009 • La Crosse Center, La Crosse, Wis.

Join the nation’s largest gathering of cheesemakers, buttermakers and whey processors. The 2009 Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference will focus world-class technical sessions on energy efficiency, plant cost control, cheese and whey technology and succession planning. Highlights include internationally known visionary Dr. Lowell Catlett and the popular Tabletop Mini Expo. n

Created in 1994, the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program is a three-year course of study administered by the internationally respected Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, 44 cheesemakers’ products proudly bear the Master’s Mark – a symbol of the superior level of quality, technical skills and craftsmanship they have attained.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the program:

Q: What is a Master Cheesemaker?

A: A Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker has earned the highest professional honor in the only certification of its kind outside of Europe. The title is granted after a cheesemaker demonstrates over a three-year course of classroom study, practical application, product evaluation, apprenticeship and testing that he or she has reached the highest levels of technical expertise and craftsmanship for specific varieties.

Q: Is this something new?

A: Master Cheesemaker certification has been a European tradition for centuries, but it wasn’t formally developed in the United States until the Wisconsin program launched in 1994.

Q: What’s the point of the program?

A: It has three primary objectives:

• To build on Wisconsin’s heritage of innovation, artistry and high standards of cheesemaking.

• To provide a way for veteran cheesemakers to achieve doctorate-level training in the art and science of cheesemaking.

• To help provide Wisconsin’s best, most passionate cheesemakers with the skills needed to keep their companies on the cutting edge and contributing to the state’s cheesemaking tradition for generations to come.

Q: How many Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers are there?

A: As of March 2008, Wisconsin has 44 certified Master Cheesemakers.

Q: Can any Wisconsin cheesemaker enter the program?

A: No. The program is designed for veteran cheesemakers who meet strict entrance criteria. All candidates must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years’ experience in a plant that participates in the Master Cheesemaker Quality Assurance program.

Q: Can cheesemakers from other states/countries enter the program?

A: No. It’s a Wisconsin-specific program.

Q: Is the Master title conferred for cheesemaking generally, or for specific cheese varieties?

A: The skills learned through the program elevate graduates’ general cheesemaking expertise, but they are considered Master Cheesemakers only for the specific varieties they choose to study. Candidates are limited to two varieties each time they enter the program. As such, one graduate might be a Master Cheesemaker for feta and emmenthaler, while another could be a Master in cheddar and havarti.

Q: Can cheesemakers go through the program more than once?

A: Yes. Many have gone through the program multiple times to gain Master certification for additional cheese varieties.

Q: What are the key program components?

A: Each candidate must complete five required courses and three elective courses.  Required courses include cheese technology, artisanship, grading and quality assurance. Elective options range from whey utilization and applied dairy chemistry to marketing. Each must also complete an apprenticeship for each cheese variety that’s being studied. In each of the three years of the program, participating cheesemakers must submit samples of their products for evaluation. The samples are checked for flavor, texture, technical quality and consistency.

Q: How many varieties of cheese are made by Masters in Wisconsin?

A: There currently are Masters certified in the production of 32 different Wisconsin cheese varieties. They range from familiar favorites, such as cheddar and mozzarella, to specialties that include emmenthaler, gorgonzola and limburger.

Q: What is the Quality Assurance Program?

A: The Quality Assurance Program evaluates all the food safety programs used by the candidate’s plant to manufacture his or her cheeses. The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research audits these programs at the plant to ensure proper food safety, sanitation, product quality and recordkeeping.

Q: How would I know if a cheese has been made by a Master?

A: Look for the Master’s Mark. Program graduates are licensed to use a special logo on their product labels that indicates the cheese has been made by a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker.

Q: Who executes the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program?

A: It’s a joint effort of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research manages the technical aspects of the program, working directly with the cheesemakers and overseeing courses; the UW-Extension develops and coordinates various short courses for the curriculum; and WMMB provides funding and supports program development and marketing. n

Event Schedule

Wednesday, April 22

7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Registration center open

8:10 a.m.-noon
General Session: Saving Energy, Making Energy - Sustaining your Business (and the Environment) as Production Costs Rise
Hosted by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research
La Crosse Center Ballroom, Upper Level
Volatile energy prices play an increasingly important role in dairy plant profitability. At the same time, dairy product buyers and end users are seeking assurances that dairy products are produced in energy-efficient, “green” facilities that promote the sustainable farms, factories and communities. This session focuses on understanding sustainable manufacturing, saving energy and adopting the very green (and cost saving) technology of methane production from waste streams. A concluding highlight is an hour with Dr. Lowell Catlett, an internationally known business speaker described by Dr. Rusty Bishop as the “best speaker on motivation and business vision I have ever seen.”

8:30-9 a.m.
Sustainability in Dairy Manufacturing
Franco Milani, assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

9-9:30 a.m.
Energy Outlook and Energy Saving Technologies
Doug Presny, emerging technology analyst, CleanTech Partners, and food processing coordinator, Wisconsin Focus on Energy.

9:30-10:45 a.m.
Energy Production from Whey Permeate and Dairy Wastewater
Chris Amey, manager of development, StormFisher Biogas, Toronto
Henry Probst, vice president, Procorp Inc. Milwaukee
Daniel Hagen, associate vice president, business development, Ecovation, Victor, N.Y.
Moderator: Larry Krom, bioenergy project manager for Wisconsin Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy Program.

10:45-11:10 a.m.
JohnsonDiversey Morning Break

11:10 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Keynote speaker: Lowell Catlett, Ph.D.
Dr. Catlett, a professor at New Mexico State University, is an exciting futurist whose knowledge of technologies and their implications on the way we live and work is addressed in his varied and upbeat presentations. His vast knowledge astounds corporate and association audiences both nationally and internationally. His presentations are thought-provoking and highly-entertaining.

Noon-1 p.m.
Luncheon and WCMA Annual Meeting
La Crosse Center Arena

1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Tabletop Mini Expo
La Crosse Center South Hall
A record number of suppliers have joined this concise and complete gathering of dairy industry suppliers offering cutting-edge ingredients, technology, equipment, services, software and know-how to advance your business.

5-7:30 p.m.
Chr. Hansen Reception & United States Championship
Cheese Auction
La Crosse Center Arena
Chr. Hansen hosts the year’s finest networking event, an evening of extraordinary cheeses from across the country. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on gold medal winners from the United States Championship Cheese Contest.

Thursday, April 23

7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Registration center open

8:30 a.m.-noon
Concurrent Session: Using Technology to Navigate Challenging Economic Times
Hosted by Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research
South Hall B
Hear CDR’s top-five technology techniques for maximizing profits and minimizing loss, and learn about CDR Ideal 2013 and what it means to the cheese industry.
Moderator: Dean Sommer, cheese and food technologist, WCDR
Speakers: Mark Johnson, senior scientist, WCDR; John Jaeggi, associate researcher, WCDR; Dr. Rusty Bishop, director, WCDR

8:30 a.m.-noon
Concurrent Session: Sustainability Practices for the Plant – Good Business Sense
Hosted by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Highlighted will be areas where sustainable practices can be practically and effectively integrated into your overall plant operations.
Moderator: Matt Mathison, vice president, technical services, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Speakers: Tom Tucker, principal, Kinergetics LLC; Keith Johnson, director of dairy plant and food markets, Ecolab Food and Beverage Division; Henry Probst, vice president, Procorp Inc.; Vernon J. Spaulding, VP Integration Services, Data Specialists Inc.; David York, manufacturing specialist, Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Morning breaks sponsored by JohnsonDiversey

Noon- 1 p.m.
Danisco luncheon

South Hall A

1:15-4 p.m.
Concurrent Session: CDR Whey Technology Update
Hosted by Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research
South Hall B
What have we learned regarding milk and its components, and their ability to serve as the mechanism for delivery of valuable nutrients? 
Moderator: KJ Burrington, dairy ingredients applications coordinator, WCDR
Speakers: Dr. Bruce German, University of California-Davis Nestle Research Center; Dr. Matt Pikosky, director research transfer, Dairy Management Inc.; Dr. John Lucey, associate professor of food science, University of Wisconsin-Madison; James Dodson, director of U.S. manufacturing and ingredient markets, Dairy Management Inc.;  Matt Mathison, vice president, technical services, WMMB

1:15 p.m.-4 p.m.
Concurrent Session: Building and Transferring Business Value: a Schenck Business Solutions Exclusive Workshop for the Dairy Industry
Hosted by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association & Dairy Business Innovation Center
South Hall B
Talks will provide professional advice on developing a succession plan, identifying the best time to transition a business, maximizing and protecting business value, and tax implications of business sale or transfer.
Speakers: Lou Banach, certified merger & acquisition advisor and managing director, Schenck Business Solutions; Jim Gettel, attorney and CM&AA, Schenck Business Solutions; John Wisniewski, CPA, Schenck Business Solutions; Jerry Smyth, VP and general counsel, Schreiber Foods Inc.

Afternoon breaks sponsored by JohnsonDiversey

5-6 p.m.
Cargill U.S. Champions Reception
La Crosse Center Ballroom
Cargill hosts as cheesemakers and buttermakers from across the nation begin their celebration of success in the 2009 United States Championship Cheese Contest.

6-8:30 p.m.
United States Champions Awards Banquet
La Crosse Center South Hall

8:30-11 p.m.
Afterglow Reception
Hosted by DSM and The Cheese Reporter
The Waterfront

Even in Tough Times, Cheese Still a Reason to Smile

Contributed by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

There is no denying the barrage of sobering economic circumstances Americans face in 2009, so finding some good news is welcome indeed. And in times like these, food can be a great comfort.

We crave what’s familiar, nourishing and reassuring-we crave cheese. The truth is cheese is always “trendy,” so versatile that it spans what is old fashioned and what is stylishly of the moment. The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, a dairy farmer-funded promotion organization for the country’s largest cheese-producing state, closely monitors food trends and finds a golden lining in the economic dark clouds.

Consumers are becoming more value-conscious as they scrutinize their spending, and while they are making cutbacks, the desire for high-quality, fresh foods remains strong. How they ultimately balance their wallets with product excellence and social responsibility remains to be seen, but the commitment to sustainable food practices seems to be firmly in place. With this mega trend prevailing, we can make some additional positive observations for 2009.

We are cooking again, maybe not like the “good old days,” but rediscovering the pleasure of making our own meals since we are eating out less. Convenience foods are a big boost to the modern home kitchen crew, including flavored cheeses that make fewer ingredients possible and time-saving styles such as shreds and shred blends of various cheese varieties that include “bistro,” taco and Italian.

Brown-bagging is up, and while the economy is a contributing force to the increase, it is just one factor, according to NPD, a national research firm. Brown-baggers also want control in pursuing their health and nutrition concerns. Portion size and what goes into the lunch are choices baggers want to decide for themselves in their quest for wellness.  Many a brown-bag lunch will include cheese, not only for its unique flavor profiles, but for its nutrition profile and wholesome qualities.

In and out of home, comfort foods reign. Macaroni and cheese, creamy soups, puddings, grilled cheese sandwiches, casseroles, chili and hearty pastas like lasagna are what we want.

Restaurants are digging deep, and the resulting creativity is the diner’s gain. Smaller portions, which grew trendy with tapas, are now portrayed in bar food, a more affordable menu selection than dinner. In his Los Angeles burger bar, celebrity chef Govind Armstrong serves sausage-stuffed olives and breaded Wisconsin cheese curds. One suburban Chicago restaurant, Soul, has initiated Craft Beer Mondays and offers homemade pretzel twists with warm cheese (gruyere and smoked cheddar). Mini cheeseburgers and sliders are big hits at the bar, which is the scene of innovative cocktails, also on the upswing, paired with cheeses and other “snackable” foods.

As for ethnic influences, prognosticators see more Cuban, more specific Mediterranean, Asian, Indian and Peruvian. Papas a la Huancaina, anyone? This rich cheese (queso blanco or fresco) and chile dish is an Andean classic.

Flavor-wise, it looks like bacon will continue its resurgence. “Smoky” is an emerging taste favorite, so look for smoked gouda, cheddar and Swiss, longtime favorites made in Wisconsin.

In times like these, what’s old is truly new again.

Specialty Cheeses on the Rise

Even in these tough economic times, consumers’ appetites for specialty products appear to be swelling.

According to the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) 2008 annual report, consumers are moving away from processed cheeses and moving toward specialty varieties. These include farmstead and artisan cheeses, and the preference is compatible with the trend toward local, small scale and sustainable products.

Over the past five years, specialty cheese volume at retail increased by 4.8% while at the same time, non-specialty cheeses declined by 1.5%, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), a Chicago-based research firm that monitors supermarket sales.

Farmstead and artisan products offer appeal to consumers for at least two reasons: Consumers who seek small batch and sustainably produced products choose farmstead cheeses because they are made on the farm where the milk is produced, while customers who seek originality as well as hands-on crafting opt for artisan cheeses. Retailers can capitalize on these consumer preferences by showcasing their inventory of specialty cheese selections and adding to them.

“The growth potential is great for retailers,” said Peter Buol, director of retail programs for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. “While a large percentage of artisan cheeses are still sold through specialty stores, many consumers prefer the convenience of one-stop shopping, and they are looking to supermarkets to provide farmstead and artisan options.” 

More information is

DMI Works to Accelerate Cheese Use in Pizza

Contributed by Dairy Management Inc.

America’s dairy producers through Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) are working to help reinvigorate the pizza category and increase sales for pizza products containing more cheese.

Pizza sales have declined in recent years and some restaurant chains that were once pizza-centric are expanding into non-pizza categories. Slow declines in cheese sales and milk sales led DMI, which manages the national dairy checkoff program for America’s dairy producers, to change its business plan five years ago and focus on ways to reverse these trends.

To help accomplish this, DMI is organizing a task force of industry leaders to identify action plans to help reinforce pizza as a favorite choice among American consumers for quality and value. This effort can help pizza foodservice operators find insights on how to boost the category and accelerate pizza sales.

“Pizza sales are important, because they directly affect overall cheese sales,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy producer and DMI chairman. “About 25% of total cheese is used on pizza, representing more than 25 billion pounds of annual milk production. By adding one additional ounce of cheese per pizza, cheese demand would increase by 250 million pounds annually.”

DMI is working to increase pizza sales in both the short and long term, as part of a comprehensive effort to increase overall cheese sales. The plan will capitalize on pizza’s terrific variety and convenience. Market research indicates that, on average, each American consumes pizza 39 times a year. Pizza offers a great value and a “meal solution” to families.

“Because pizza sales account for more than $32 billion annually, we know that increasing pizza sales benefits dairy producers and the entire dairy industry,” said Tom Gallagher, DMI’s chief executive officer.

As part of the short-term strategy, the dairy checkoff is working with Domino’s Pizza to introduce a line of six specialty pizzas, called “Domino’s American Legends,” that will use up to 40% more cheese.

Through the agreement, dairy producers are investing $12 million over two years to support the launch of this line of pizza nationwide. Producer-funded efforts will support menu development, advertising, public relations, local market promotions and communications activities.

Domino’s will invest four to five times the investment of dairy producers for menu development, advertising, in-store promotion materials and digital and other marketing efforts to support the launch. The partnership will measure overall increases in pizza and cheese sales in test markets, and how changes in unit pricing for consumers affect total sales.

The potential additional cheese sales for these offerings could be more than 10 million pounds of cheese (or up to 100 million additional pounds of milk) used annually.

“DMI’s partnership with Domino’s is the first step in our effort to increase sales of pizza products containing more cheese,” Gallagher said. “Domino’s is an excellent partner because they believe that cheese should remain the focus for increasing pizza sales.”