By Tony Manos

Burnett Dairy Cooperative, maker of Fancy Brand Cheese, expanded its cheese-production facility in Grantsburg, Wis. The project is a 25,000-square-foot cold and dry storage addition that will provide better storage for aging the company’s cheese and delivering it to the retail market.

Located near the pristine St. Croix National Scenic Riverway 80 miles northeast of Minneapolis, Grantsburg has an air of small-town charm that perfectly matches Burnett’s friendly, wholesome approach to cheesemaking. The company has been producing high-quality dairy at the same location since 1896. The original brick building is still there, but the facility has grown over time. Today, Burnett has a national client list founded on the consistent high quality of its products.
Commitment to maintaining that tradition is a priority for General Manager Earl Wilson, who said, “We do truly believe that what is in the package is about as good and flavorful as you can find.”

The cooperative receives milk from partner dairies stretching over a five-county area. These hands-on family farms, combined with Burnett Dairy’s Ag product/Service Division, guarantee the quality of the milk.

Over the years Burnett has resisted industry trends that might have improved margins but would have cut corners in cheese flavor and quality. The company’s diligence has paid off. In the U.S. Cheesemaker Championship competition, Burnett won Best of Class for its Mozzarella String and Mild Cheddar cheeses. In addition, Mozzarella String, Smoked String and Aged Provolone cheeses each received second place awards, and another Aged Provolone won a third place in its category. The achievements matter: the U.S. Cheesemaker Championship competition fields more than 2,000 entries from around the world.

As Burnett’s foodservice and retail market continued to expand, the need for increased storage capacity had become ever more urgent. Over time the company’s existing dry storage gradually became outdated and too small for the company’s needs. The objective with the new storage space was twofold: expand volume and support growth in retail sales and service along with the existing foodservice line. Currently, retail sales are a small part of the company’s total sales, and Burnett sees solid growth potential in the segment. But servicing the retail market would require the company to carry more inventory than for the foodservice line. The solution was the new facility.