May 11, 2018
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Klondike to launch Buholzer Brothers brand of Brick, Muenster and Havarti

BRAND NEW BRAND — Buholzer Brothers is a new brand of Brick, Muenster and Havarti being rolled out by Klondike Cheese Co. The company is preparing a major launch of the line at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association show next month.

AWARD-WINNING FETA — Klondike Cheese Co. continues to expand production of its award-winning Feta, which has won awards in state, national and international competitions. The company recently added a new crumbling line to keep up with growing demand.

By Kate Sander

MONROE, Wis. — A new retail brand featuring a familiar industry name will be arriving at grocers in the Midwest and beyond this summer.

Buholzer Brothers is a new brand of Brick, Muenster and Havarti being rolled out by Klondike Cheese Co., a cheese and Greek yogurt manufacturer based in Monroe, Wisconsin, and owned by the Buholzer family.

For almost a century, the Buholzers have been making cheese in southern Wisconsin’s Green County, and since 1972, the family has been making cheese at the Klondike Cheese facility they purchased. The company is operated by third generation cheesemakers — Ron, Dave and Steve Buholzer, aka the Buholzer Brothers — as well as some of their children.

Klondike is perhaps best known for its Feta, sold under the Odyssey brand. However, the company has long produced Brick, Havarti and Muenster for distributors and converters. This will be the company’s first foray into branding these cheeses, says Luke Buholzer, Ron’s son and a fourth generation of the family to work in the business alongside Steve’s son, Adam, and his wife Teena, and Steve’s daughter Melissa Erdley and her husband Matt.

Buholzer Brothers cheeses will be available in 8-ounce retail cuts and deli slicing loaves.

The new brand highlights the tradition, heritage and family behind the cheese, says Luke Buholzer, who serves as vice president of sales. Utilizing the Odyssey brand was a consideration, but from a consumer standpoint, Feta is very different from Brick, Muenster and Havarti, and the brand didn’t translate well to the European-style cheeses. The company has worked with focus groups to finalize the name and the label, perfecting it along the way as input has been received.

“We’ve added
a fifth crumbling line
for Feta to keep up
with growing demand.
We’re continually
investing in plant

Luke Buholzer

Although the brands have different names and are marketed differently, Luke Buholzer says Klondike will be working closely with retailers who carry the company’s Feta and its Greek yogurt, also sold under the Odyssey brand.

The brand will start in the Midwest and work its way east and west, Luke Buholzer says, noting that Brick cheese, in particular, isn’t widely available or well known outside the Midwest. This means there are many opportunities to expand sales. The company is preparing for a major launch of the new brand at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association conference next month.

Outside the Midwest, Brick may not be well known, but the company’s Brick, Muenster and Havarti are certainly highly acclaimed on the contest circuit. Earlier this spring, Klondike’s Muenster took home second place at the World Championship Cheese Contest, only bested by Klondike’s Brick, which placed first in the contest’s Brick and Muenster Class. In addition, the company’s Havarti placed third in the contest’s Havarti Class. Klondike’s Brick and Muenster also swept the top three spots in the Brick and Muenster Class at the Wisconsin State Fair last year.

The Buholzer Brothers brand launch coincides with a major plant addition the company is now finalizing. The 40,000-square-foot addition, which the company broke ground on at the end of 2016, is allowing the company to expand its Muenster, Brick and Havarti manufacturing.

The addition includes all new equipment from intake through packaging, including five 50,000-pound vats, block form handling equipment from Germany and brine equipment from Switzerland. The company currently is doing test runs and, barring any major problems, the addition will be fully operational in June, Luke Buholzer says.

With the new capacity, the company also will be able to offer flavored cheeses and limited edition cheeses. Currently Klondike offers a popular Dill Havarti, which also is an award winner, placing first and third in the Flavored Havarti Class at the Wisconsin State Fair this past summer.

While finalizing the plant expansion and preparing for a brand launch, Klondike also continues to expand production of its award-winning Feta.

“We’ve added a fifth crumbling line for Feta to keep up with growing demand,” Luke Buholzer says. “We’re continually investing in plant improvements.”

The company has the capacity to produce 110,000 pounds of Feta daily and has recently added a 4-ounce Feta crumble to its offerings. The company, which is home to several Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers, also is playing around with flavored Fetas and exploring new opportunities there, such as a Hatch Pepper Feta.

The company already has numerous successful flavored Fetas and the awards to back them up.

The company’s Peppercorn Feta won top honors in its class at last summer’s American Cheese Society competition. Odyssey Tomato & Basil Feta placed second in the Flavored Feta Class at this year’s World Championship Cheese Contest as did the company’s Sweet Heat Feta. At the Wisconsin State Fair last summer, Klondike’s Peppercorn Feta placed first in the Flavored Soft Cheese Class and Mediterranean Feta placed third in the same class.

Also at the Wisconsin State Fair, the company swept the Reduced Fat or Lite Cheese Class with its Fetas — traditional reduced-fat Feta placed first, followed by Mediterranean and Tomato & Basil flavors.

In addition, the company placed first and third in the World Championship Cheese Contest’s Lowfat Cheeses Class with its lowfat and fat-free Fetas, and second and third with its traditional Feta in the contest’s Feta Class.

“The entire breadth
of our products
is award-winning.
Everything comes home
with awards.”

Luke Buholzer

These aren’t all of the company’s awards — each year the company adds to its collection of ribbons and medals. In fact, one of the things that sets the company apart, Luke Buholzer says, is the quality across its entire product line.

“The entire breadth of our products is award-winning,” he says. “Everything comes home with awards.”

The three biggest things that set Klondike apart are its quality and consistency, as well as the fact that the company does everything in-house, from milk intake to final packaging, which allows it to have exclusive quality control, Luke Buholzer says.

The company also ensures product freshness and is best able to meet customers’ needs by producing everything to order. That way, the product is always of consistent age and quality when it ships, he says.

Klondike’s facilities are British Retail Consortium (BRC)-certified. In addition to BRC certification, the company also has organic, halal and kosher certifications and offerings.

To add to its lineup, the company currently is working on adding organic Greek yogurt in the future.

Sales of the company’s Odyssey brand Greek yogurt continue to grow, with more traditional retailers, college campuses and other foodservice providers picking up the product line that Klondike introduced five years ago. Last year, the company introduced a new Greek yogurt flavor, Mango Pomegranate Acai, that is performing well, along with other traditional yogurt flavors. Like its cheeses, the company’s yogurts are award-winning, sweeping the top three spots in the Flavored High Protein Yogurt (Cow’s Milk) Class at the World Championship Cheese Contest. The company also won numerous awards at the World Dairy Expo annual contest, including a second-place award for the new yogurt flavor.

In addition, this past year the company added production of Greek sour cream. The product is available in 12-ounce containers, primarily in the Midwest. It is gaining traction particularly in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio at the moment, Luke Buholzer says.

New packaging, sizes and formats for all of its products are all being explored, he adds.

Looking ahead to the future, the contractors aren’t leaving any time soon. Once the Brick, Muenster and Havarti expansion is completed in a few weeks, Klondike intends to break ground on a 35,000-square-foot cooler and dry storage expansion. The plan is to break ground this summer and have the building buttoned up before the snow flies, with interior work completed over the winter.





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