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Cheese of the Month - May 2017

Gouda, Edam hold potential for growth in applications

Editor’s Note: “Cheese of the Month” is Cheese Market News’ exclusive profile series exploring various cheese types. Each month, CMN highlights a different cheese in this feature, giving our readers a comprehensive look at production, marketing, sales and in-depth aspects of each profiled cheese type. Please read on to learn about this month’s featured cheeses: Gouda and Edam.

By Stephanie Awe

MADISON, Wis. — Gouda and its sister cheese, Edam, have a rich, buttery, slightly sweet flavor and a smooth, creamy texture, developing more complexity and becoming firmer with age.

While the cheeses historically have differences, today they are minimal. With the exception of aged Gouda, both are creamy and mild. Since Edam is a lower fat cheese, it may have a firmer, drier texture than full-fat Gouda, according to David McCoy, managing director, Dairy Insights LLC, Muskego, Wisconsin.

Originating in Holland more than 800 years ago, Gouda first was made around the city of Gouda, in the province of South Holland, Netherlands, McCoy says. Similarly, Edam first was made around the city of Edam, Netherlands.

Cheese was traded in Gouda around this time, which is how Gouda cheese received its name, says Marieke Penterman, cheesemaker and owner, Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin.

In the United States today, Gouda cheese’s requirements and make procedure are similar to those of Edam, except that its minimum milkfat content must be 46 percent by weight of the solids, according to FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations.

Meanwhile, Edam cheese must contain a minimum milkfat content of 40 percent by weight of the solids. Like Gouda, it must contain a maximum moisture content of 45 percent by weight.

There are a number of manufacturing procedures for Gouda-type cheeses in the United States, McCoy says. Traditionally, Gouda is made with whole milk, whereas Edam traditionally is made with partially skimmed milk. Once the vat is set, whey oftentimes is drained from the vat, heated and returned to the vat, creating a higher temperature and resulting in a drier cheese, allowing cheesemakers to control the temperature without having to use a steam-jacketed vat, McCoy says.

Eventually, the whey is drained from the vat and may be lightly salted before the curd is put into round hoops, which are gently pressed and brine salted before the cheese is covered with a waxy coating and cured for about 7 to 10 days, McCoy says, noting that raw milk cheese would need to be stored for at least 60 days at not less than 35 degrees Fahrenheit before sale.

Apart from more traditional methods, a number of manufacturers of Cheddar-type cheeses have begun making Gouda-style cheeses to meet export market needs, McCoy says. These manufacturers use a “hybrid” Gouda-Cheddar manufacturing procedure, largely due to the equipment available in mechanized Cheddar plants, he adds.

For this hybrid-type method, the vat typically is set using the same temperature profile as the traditional make, although the culture may differ. The curd typically is heated using the vat’s jacketed system. At the end of the procedure, the curd typically is fully drained, dry salted and pressed into blocks for ripening and aging, McCoy says.

As long as the percentages of fat and dry matter meet FDA’s standards, and the general flavor and texture of the cheese does not change, the nontraditional Gouda meets the regulations, McCoy adds.

• Gouda exports

About 10 years ago, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) conducted research on cheeses made and consumed in various countries. USDEC discovered that while Gouda production was not significant in the United States, it is a relatively large traded commodity and is a key player in global cheese processing markets, says Ross Christieson, senior vice president of market research and analysis, USDEC.

In response, USDEC initiated a project to increase U.S. Gouda production and introduced U.S. cheesemakers to end users and customers so they would better understand product requirements.

USDEC also helped cheesemakers — mostly commodity plants making Cheddar-type cheeses — understand the technology changes they would need to make to have the right end product, Christieson says.

Since implementing the project, U.S. Gouda export volumes have grown. Starting at about 147 metric tons of exported Gouda in 2007, the United States grew to export 22,112 metric tons in 2015, according to Christieson. Looking at 2015 data alone, U.S. Gouda exports exceeded its imports by nearly 14,000 metric tons.

Most Gouda in the United States is exported, with its main three markets in Mexico, Korea and Japan, Christieson adds.

“My sense is that the U.S. has about 20 percent of world Gouda trade,” Christieson says, also noting that USDEC currently is working to identify other markets where U.S. Gouda exports would thrive.

In terms of consumption, the European Union (EU) consumes about 60 percent of the world’s Gouda (natural only, sold in either retail or foodservice), Christieson says. The second-highest consumption is in Japan, followed by Chile, Mexico, Russia and Argentina. The United States is the seventh largest consumer of Gouda, he says.

The EU also is the largest consumption market for Edam (natural only, sold in retail and foodservice), with 43 percent of the world’s consumption. The EU is followed by Russia, Argentina and Peru. Meanwhile, the United States is eighth in overall Edam consumption, Christieson says.

• Retail sales

In the United States, Gouda retail volume sales were 11.5 million pounds in the latest 52 weeks as of April 16, 2017 (U.S. multi-outlet and convenience stores, fixed weight, natural cheese), according to data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI) courtesy of Dairy Management Inc. This volume was up 14.8 percent, continuing a five-year positive trend. Meanwhile, just 711,440 pounds of Edam were sold in the United States in this timeframe, both domestic and imported.

About 11 percent of retail Gouda sold was imported in the latest 52 weeks as of April 16, 2017, which is down about 10 percent, while domestic sales rose 20.9 percent, the data says. About 12 percent of Edam sold in the United States during this time also was imported, the IRI data adds.

Gouda volume sales are up compared to last year throughout all seasons — especially Thanksgiving and Christmas — and Edam sales have mostly spiked during winter holidays. While Edam sales are down from a year ago, the most recent Christmas week sales spike was higher than the previous year.

In addition, Gouda in retail outlets was sold mostly under national brands as opposed to private label, and Edam cheeses sold have been 100-percent branded, according to the data. While Edam is sold most in ball form, Gouda is most often sold in sliced form.

• Gouda, Edam markets; selling tactics

Companies offering Gouda and Edam have different approaches when it comes to where and how ­to sell their cheeses.

Penterman, who emigrated from Holland, decided to start Marieke Gouda upon moving to the United States and finding a lack of Goudas comparable to the ones produced in the Netherlands. Penterman, who wanted to start her own business before turning 30, returned to the Netherlands to learn how to make cheese and went on to become a licensed cheesemaker in Wisconsin. About 10 days before turning 30, Penterman says she opened the company’s retail store on its farm in Thorp, Wisconsin.

Marieke Gouda, which offers raw milk Gouda varieties using milk from its own farm as well as cultures and herbs from the Netherlands, makes its Goudas following Holland tradition.

Currently, the company exports its Gouda varieties to other regions across the world, although international sales are minimal, Penterman says, adding that it would be nice to get more sales outside of the United States but that domestic sales are the company’s main focus.

“It seems that through the years and wherever I go, more and more people have tried Gouda,” she says.

The company is well represented in the Midwest, Penterman says, but the company is working to open markets on the West Coast.

At Caves of Faribault, a subsidiary of Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. located in Faribault, Minnesota, Jeffs’ Select Gouda and St. Mary’s Grass Fed Gouda, made at Maple Leaf Cheese Co-op in Monroe, Wisconsin, are aged at its caves.

Jeffs’ Select and St. Mary’s were created through a collaboration between Jeff Jirik of Caves of Faribault; Jeff Wideman of Maple Leaf Cheese; and Rueben Nilsson of Caves of Faribault. Bruce Workman of Edelweiss Creamery, Monroe, Wisconsin, made the first batch of St. Mary’s, says Jirik, who is vice president of product development, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. Cheese Division.

Jeffs’ Select is available nationwide at retail and foodservice outlets but is limited in capacity, while St. Mary’s is available at retail stores in the Midwest.

In addition, Caves of Faribault partnered with Rod Kregel of Swiss Valley Farms, now operating under Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., to offer a 108-pound Gouda block that is available domestically and internationally. The cheese is made at Prairie Farms’ plant in Luana, Iowa, Jirik says.

Gouda is a very exportable cheese, Jirik adds, because it is durable and ages well. He notes that not only is the United States seeing growth in Gouda consumption, but the cheese also is popular in Mexico and South American countries.

At Mullins Cheese, Mosinee, Wisconsin, the company offers 40-pound and 640-pound blocks of both Gouda and Edam, which are sold to customers under private label, says Josh Mullins, plant manager, Mullins Cheese.

He adds that Mullins Cheese’s Gouda and Edam, while comparable in flavor to more traditional versions of the cheeses, are nontraditional in packaging because of their block formats.

The company offers the nontraditional block packaging because it is what the marketplace is accepting, Mullins says, adding that the block format allows customers to put the cheese through high-speed slicers. A wheel, on the other hand, would give customers odd-shaped cuts, he says.

The fourth generation company makes things differently than it did 20 to 30 years ago, and these changes differentiate the company in the marketplace, Mullins notes.

“We’ve adapted to what the industry wants rather than making people adapt to what we want,” he says.

• Innovations and applications

Whether following close to tradition or veering far from it, companies continue to innovative their Gouda and Edam varieties as applications expand.

Caves of Faribault recently developed an aged Gouda with cocoa rubbed on the rind, according to Jill Ellingson, plant manager, Caves of Faribault, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. Cheese Division. The cheese has been tested through the company’s factory store and will soon become available regionally.

The company also prides itself on the intense flavor of its Jeffs’ Select Gouda, which offers notes of caramel and reggiano. The caramel note, in particular, is challenging to achieve in a Gouda, Jirik says.
He adds that Goudas are versatile with uses for baking and cooking applications, and they can make for a great ingredient on restaurant menus. They also are a good breakfast cheese and do well melted over steaks, added into salads and mixed with fruit and nuts, he says.

Sandwiches are a popular application for Mullins Cheese’s Gouda and Edam blocks, which are ideal for slicing, Mullins says. The slices also are popular on party trays, combined with other cheeses such as Pepper Jack, Colby Jack and Cheddar, he adds.

Penterman notes that Gouda’s changing flavor as it ages ­— from smooth and creamy to sharp — allows for a variety of applications as it develops, including use on grilled cheese sandwiches, pastas, chilis, hamburgers and on cheese platters.

Marieke Gouda’s recently-developed Goudas, including new bacon and truffle flavors, do well with these applications, she says. The company also is working on a new flavor and conducting test batches on it, Penterman says.

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