Senate passes farm bill that
includes Dairy Security Act
June 14, 2013
WASHINGTON — Following a vote late last week to end debate on a new 5-year farm bill, the U.S. Senate on Monday voted 66-27 in favor of the $500 billion bill’s passage.
The bill would cut $24 billion from farm spending over 10 years, including a $4 billion reduction to food stamps.
“The Senate voted to support 16 million American jobs, to save taxpayers billions and to implement the most significant reforms to agriculture programs in decades,” says Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “By eliminating duplication and streamlining programs, we were able to save $24 billion while strengthening initiatives that help farmers and small businesses reach new markets. This bill proves that by working across party lines, we can save taxpayer money and create smart policies that lay the foundation for a stronger economy.”
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says passage of the bill is “a promising development and an important one for rural communities and families.”
Vilsack says the bill provides a strong safety net for agriculture, while making needed reforms by eliminating the direct payment system and tightening payment and eligibility requirements.
“The administration intends to continue to work with the Senate through the conference process to achieve the savings included in the president’s budget in the crop insurance and commodity programs while addressing the important priorities of the bill,” he says. “This is not just a farm bill — it’s a trade bill, a conservation bill, an innovation bill and above all, a job creation bill.”
The dairy title of the bill includes the Dairy Security Act (DSA), which includes a controversial Dairy Market Stabilization Program that would, in times of excess milk production, require food manufacturers to withhold payments from dairy farmers and to remit the revenues to USDA. The DSA is backed by industry groups including the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU).
“On this strong bipartisan vote, the Senate has again shown its determination to put politics aside and work to implement new and better policies for America, including the country’s dairy farmers,” says Jerry Kozak, president and CEO, NMPF.
NMPF says the DSA establishes a voluntary margin insurance program, allowing farmers to better manage the twin risks of milk price and feed cost volatility. It also features a market stabilization program to improve the cost-effectiveness of the program, helping farmers and taxpayers alike, NMPF says. The bill’s dairy title eliminates the Milk Income Loss Contract, Dairy Product Price Support and Dairy Export Incentive programs.
NFU also says it is pleased the Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan manner to approve the legislation.
“We are happy to see language included that will provide a safety net for family farmers and ranchers, as well as a robust crop insurance program, mandatory energy funding, streamlined conservation programs, additional protections for livestock producers and incentives for locally-owned and organic production,” says Roger Johnson, president, NFU.
To view a copy of the Senate bill, visit www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill.
The House also is expected to take up its version of the farm bill this month, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said this week.
“As a longtime proponent of top-to-bottom reform, my concerns about our country’s farm programs are well known,” Boehner says. “But as I said on the day I became speaker, my job isn’t to impose my personal will on this institution or its members. Rather, it’s to ensure we have a fair process and an open debate, leading to a product that reflects the will of our majority, the will of our members and the will of those we represent. That’s the commitment I intend to keep as this process proceeds.”
Boehner adds that he “had concerns about some of the dairy provisions of the farm bill last year, and those concerns remain this year.” In particular, he has voiced opposition to the supply management provision included in the DSA. However, Boehner this week indicated he would support the bill.
“Doing nothing means that we get no changes in the farm program, no changes in the nutrition program. And as a result, I’m going to vote for the farm bill to make sure that the good work of the agriculture committee and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill gets to a conference so that we can get the kind of changes that people want in our nutrition programs and our farm programs,” he says.
Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.) will offer an amendment to change the dairy provisions.
The lawmakers’ Dairy Freedom Act offers an expanded safety net for dairy farmers in the form of revenue insurance but removes the supply management provision. The proposal is supported by industry groups including the International Dairy Foods Association and Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (DBA).
DBA notes that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the Dairy Freedom Act would cost less than the Dairy Security Act.
“The Dairy Freedom Act mirrors all of the provisions of the Dairy Security Act, except the Dairy Freedom Act does not include a supply management program provision called the Dairy Market Stabilization Program,” DBA says. “Recently, estimates were released by the Congressional Budget Office that compared the costs of the two dairy safety net programs. According to CBO, the Dairy Freedom Act would cost $15 million less than the Dairy Security Act now included in the farm bill.”
Laurie Fischer, executive director, DBA, says the CBO estimates “clearly demonstrate” the Dairy Freedom Act does not cost the government more money than the DSA.
“The DSA would not only cost more, but it would also add more government intrusion into an already highly-regulated dairy industry, and it would impose new and costly regulations on the nation’s dairy processors,” she says. “The DBA will continue to fight for adoption of the Dairy Freedom Act which would provide an effective safety net option for dairy farmers, without government interference in their businesses or in milk markets.”
DBA adds that at a recent WisPolitics luncheon, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., indicated when the farm bill hits the House floor, there’s likely to be a strong move to kill supply management.
Rachel Kaldor, executive director of the Dairy Institute of California, says the institute “shares the concerns of California Dairies Inc. that the supply management provision was included in the Senate version of the dairy title. We feel strongly that supply control works against the long-term best interest of dairy farmers and the processors who market their milk.
“At a time of expanding market opportunity for the U.S. dairy industry, we need a streamlined regulatory program that allows us to seize those opportunities,” Kaldor adds. “Rather than being streamlined, the supply management provision creates a complicated regulatory program that erects real barriers to realizing our potential for growth and success.”
However, Kozak says NMPF is encouraging the House to support its agriculture committee-passed bill, which includes the DSA, and “reject any dairy processor-backed amendment to undermine the bill’s effectiveness by removing the market stabilization program.
“Prompt action in the House is necessary so that farmers don’t spend the last half of this year like they spent 2012: expecting a harvest that never materializes,” Kozak says.
Another possible area of contention in the House farm bill is proposed steeper cuts to the nation’s food stamp program.
The House’s $940 billion farm bill cuts spending by $39.7 billion over 10 years, with $20.5 billion of the cuts coming from food stamps.
Vilsack says he remains “deeply concerned that the House version contains dramatic reductions in support of nutrition programs that are critical for the well-being of millions of working families, while also benefitting farm and rural economies.
“As this process continues, I am hopeful that a comprehensive farm bill ultimately reflects President Obama’s commitment to revitalizing our economy and strengthening our families, including through adequate provision of important nutrition assistance programs,” Vilsack says.
Nevada governor vetoes raw milk bill;
other bills still alive
June 14, 2013
WASHINGTON — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval last Thursday vetoed a bill that would have allowed raw milk produced in any county to be sold anywhere in the state. Current Nevada law authorizes county milk commissions to regulate the production and distribution of certified raw milk and raw milk products only in the county where it is produced.
Sandoval cited the “significant public health risks” linked to raw milk consumption as a reason for vetoing AB 209, which was passed by Nevada’s Assembly April 22 and the state Senate May 24.
In late May, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) sent a letter to Gov. Sandoval, urging him to veto the raw milk legislation (see “Dairy groups urge Nev. governor to veto bill” in the May 31, 2013, issue of Cheese Market News).
“The nation’s dairy farmers thank Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval for vetoing a state bill that would have permitted raw milk to be distributed statewide, and in so doing, siding with health experts who recognize the potential danger to consumers of raw milk,” said NMPF President Jerry Kozak in a statement last Friday. “Gambling with the health of one’s family shouldn’t be one of Nevada’s hallmarks, and we appreciate Gov. Sandoval heeding that message.”
Kozak notes that while 20 states prohibit the sale of raw milk to consumers, several states have loosened or have considered loosening restrictions on the sale of unpasteurized dairy products in recent years despite illnesses that have been linked to the products.
“We urge other states considering similar legislation to look to the exemplary leadership demonstrated by Sandoval,” Kozak says.
In late April, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a bill that officially legalized herd shares. SB 2072 initially was introduced to adopt the latest revision of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, but an amendment later was added to say “it is not a violation (of law) to transfer or obtain raw milk under a shared animal ownership agreement.” The bill also calls for a group to consider studying the availability of raw milk for human consumption in the state and to report its findings and recommendations along with any proposed legislation to the legislature next session.
Maine’s House and Senate recently passed a bill which would allow farmers who produce or process less than 20 gallons of raw milk a day to sell raw milk or raw milk products directly to consumers without having to obtain a license.
According to its summary, LD 1282 “exempts from state licensing and inspection requirements homestead food operations and raw milk producers who sell small quantities of certain food products or raw milk products made or produced at the person’s residence or farm if the food products or raw milk products are sold directly from the person’s home or farm or farm stand or at a farmers’ market within the state.”
The bill now awaits the approval or veto of Maine Gov. Paul LePage.
Other states still are debating raw milk proposals. Public hearings held last week in South Dakota and Massachusetts included discussion of legislation relating to raw milk.
A June 6 public hearing in the South Dakota State Capitol focused on proposed rules regarding labeling and animal health requirements for dairy producers selling bottled raw milk directly to consumers. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture says adopting the proposed rules will clarify existing rules and ensure clarity of procedures relating to the offering of bottled raw milk for human consumption.
Direct sales of raw milk to consumers currently are allowed throughout South Dakota. IDFA says the proposal by the state’s Department of Agriculture would make it easier to market raw milk by requiring only monthly testing for pathogens before the raw milk could be sold to consumers.
Last week IDFA sent a letter opposing the draft regulations, saying product testing is not an adequate substitute for pasteurization and does not offer the same level of safety.
“Increasing the availability of raw milk for direct human consumption undermines and detracts from the overall superior food safety record and safe image of all dairy products,” IDFA’s letter says.
On June 3, a hearing at a high school in Spencer, Mass., allowed the public to offer testimony on the Massachusetts House Bill H717, which would allow farmers to deliver raw milk to customers. Currently, Massachusetts law allows dairy farmers licensed by the state to sell raw milk to customers who come to the farm.
“It seems unfair to prevent consumers who do not have a car or who may be disabled or blind from buying licensed raw milk. H717 gives these people a chance to buy it by contracting with a raw milk farmer for delivery,” Jack Kittredge, policy director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, said in his testimony supporting the bill.
CWT members will double
payment from 2 to 4 cents
June 14, 2013
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The members of Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) have endorsed a larger investment in the farmer-funded self-help program, voting to enhance the membership requirement from 2 cent per hundredweight to 4 cents per hundredweight, effective July 1, 2013, and running through Dec. 31, 2015.
The additional investment will cover the large increase in CWT member requests for export assistance in 2013, driven by increased demand in world dairy markets for U.S. American-type cheeses, butter, whole milk powder, and anhydrous milkfat.
“Because of increased activity in 2013, the members decided to enhance CWT’s revenue base in order to continue to successfully compete in world markets this year and into the future,” says Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which manages CWT.
CWT is funded by voluntary contributions from dairy cooperatives and individual dairy farmers. The money raised by their investment is used to strengthen and stabilize the dairy farmers’ milk prices and margins.
“As it starts its 11th the year of operation, CWT remains the best self-help tool for the nation’s dairy producers,” Kozak says. “The members of CWT are recognizing how important CWT remains in help our farmers build access to the fastest-growing markets for their milk, which are overseas.”
Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 60.812 million pounds of cheese, 51.727 million pounds of butter, 44,092 pounds of anhydrous milk fat and 218,258 pounds of whole milk powder to 31 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.690 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. That is more than USDA’s projected increase in milk marketings for all of 2013, CWT says.
“With the export market growing at a rate five to eight times faster than the U.S. market, the vote by CWT’s member cooperatives will ensure the U.S. is a consistent and competitive supplier of dairy products in the world’s growing dairy markets,” Kozak says.
Saputo USA files lawsuit
against Kraft over Toppers
June 14, 2013
CHICAGO — Saputo Cheese USA has filed a lawsuit against Kraft Foods over the use of the “Toppers” mark on cheese products.
Saputo Cheese USA Inc. June 7 filed a complaint and demand for jury trial against Kraft Foods Group Inc. and Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The complaint alleges that Kraft, which late last year began selling a line of Velveeta Toppers cheese products, has engaged in trademark infringement and unfair competition, and Saputo is seeking injunctive and monetary relief.
In the complaint, Saputo says it has advertised, marketed and sold Toppers brand cheese in interstate commerce since 1996 and has a registered trademark for the name. The company points to Stella Toppers Crumbled Blue Cheese as an example of one of its products that uses this name.
Saputo says Kraft’s use of the “Toppers” mark in connection with cheese products is likely to cause confusion among customers, who may think the cheese products advertised and sold by Kraft using the Toppers mark are associated with Saputo, or that cheeses advertised and sold by Saputo using the Toppers mark are associated with Kraft.
Upon learning of Kraft’s use of the Toppers mark, Saputo says its counsel sent a cease-and-desist letter to Kraft Foods on May 23, demanding they immediately cease all use of the Toppers mark. On May 31, Kraft Foods responded to the letter by e-mail, indicating they were looking into the matter and would provide a response soon, the complaint says. As of the complaint’s filing, Saputo says, Kraft has refused to cease and desist from its use of the Toppers mark.
When contacted by CMN, Kraft said it does not comment on pending litigation.
Saputo alleges six counts, including infringement of federally registered trademark, federal unfair competition and false designation of origin, federal false advertising, violation of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act under Illinois law, common law trademark infringement and common law unfair competition. Saputo says it “has suffered and will continue to suffer damages in an amount that is not presently ascertainable, but will be established at trial.”
In addition to compensation and damages, Saputo also seeks that Kraft be preliminary and permanently enjoined from using the Toppers mark, as well as required to recall and destroy all products, labels and promotional materials and remove online materials that bear the Toppers mark.
Mt. Sterling Co-op Creamery adds to its product line, continues to grow
By Kate Sander
MT. STERLING, Wis. — As consumer interest and familiarity in goat’s milk cheese grows, Mt. Sterling Co-op Creamery stands ready and waiting to supply its handcrafted cheese throughout the United States.
The small co-op, currently with 10 dairy goat producers, is looking to grow both in members and in customer volume, says Patricia Lund, who has handled the co-op’s sales and marketing for the past dozen years. She notes that though it’s small, Mt. Sterling Co-op Creamery has enjoyed a steady growth in production and sales since it was formed in 1976 and has enjoyed at least a 10-percent increase in sales each year during the past five years.
Part of that growth has come from the co-op’s decision to expand its product line over the past several years. The co-op is best known for its signature, award-winning Cheddar-style raw goat’s milk products, the sharp variety of which won a second place at last year’s American Cheese Society (ACS) competition. In recent years, the co-op also has added a wide range of other dairy products, bringing its total offerings to 20.
“The marketplace was asking for them, and diversifying was important for the stability of the company,” Lund says.
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Senate farm bill debate ends,
supply management faces vote
June 7, 2013
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted 75-22 on Thursday to end debate on a 5-year farm bill, clearing way for passage of the legislation next week.
The bill would cut $24 billion from farm spending over 10 years, including a $4 billion reduction to food stamps. Final votes on the bill are likely to occur on Monday before the Senate turns its focus to immigration reform. (See “House, Senate ag committees pass farm bill including DSA; full House, Senate could consider bills in next month” in the May 17, 2013, issue of Cheese Market News.)
The dairy title of the bill includes the Dairy Security Act, which includes a controversial Dairy Market Stabilization Program that would limit milk supplies by periodically requiring food manufacturers to withhold payments from dairy farmers and to remit the revenues to USDA.
Before the Senate vote on Thursday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., touted her bill as supporting 16 million U.S. jobs.
“I don’t think there will be a single bill on this floor that affects more jobs than this one,” Stabenow says. “This is an opportunity to cut spending by more than $24 billion.”
More than 10 Republicans joined Democrats in advancing the bill. A similar farm bill passed last year on a 64-35 vote, but the House failed to take up its own farm bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who filed the cloture motion to end debate on the farm bill earlier this week, said he hopes that House leaders will allow a floor vote on the Senate farm bill this year.
“Congress must pass a strong farm bill and do it quickly,” Reid says. “I am optimistic and hopeful that we will advance this bill.”
The House is working on its own $940 billion farm bill that cuts spending by $39.7 billion over 10 years, with $20.5 billion of the cuts coming from food stamps. The House bill is expected to get a floor vote later this month.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) praised the Senate vote to move forward on the farm bill.
“The Senate deserves the sincere thanks of dairy farmers nationwide for its overwhelming majority vote to end debate on the 2013 Farm Bill,” says Jerry Kozak, president and CEO, NMPF. “The decision to invoke cloture clears the way for approval of a much-needed reform of the federal dairy program when the Senate votes on final passage of the farm bill expected early next week.”
NMPF also praised a House Judiciary Committee vote this week requiring the farm bill’s dairy reform program to go through regular government rulemaking, saying the decision is a reasonable compromise to get the reform program approved. The measure was introduced as an amendment to the House farm bill by Rep. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.
“This is the latest attempt at compromise by Congressman Goodlatte on a program that has been approved twice by the House Agriculture Committee and that dairy farmers overwhelmingly support,” Kozak says. “It’s time to end the divisiveness and approve reform of the federal dairy program. For that reason, we see this vote, which appears to accept that the Dairy Security Act will become law, as a good compromise.”
However, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says the House Judiciary Committee vote rejects efforts by the House Agriculture Committee to allow USDA to bypass the procedural protections afforded to businesses under the Administrative Procedures Act when promulgating rules to implement the Dairy Security Act. The judiciary committee instead inserted a proposal that would require USDA to examine the impacts of proposed dairy policy in several areas — including consumer prices, the cost of USDA nutrition programs, competitiveness within the dairy industry and the potential for dairy market growth — prior to adopting interim and final regulations.
IDFA says the action of the committee reflects growing opposition to the Dairy Market Stabilization proposal included in the Dairy Security Act.
IDFA notes Goodlatte has signaled his opposition to the Dairy Security Act and will offer his alternative proposal, the Dairy Freedom Act, as a substitute when the farm bill is debated by the full House of Representatives later this month. Co-sponsored by Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., the Dairy Freedom Act offers an expanded safety net for dairy farmers in the form of revenue insurances but removes the supply management provision.
In a statement following the House Judiciary Committee vote this week, Goodlatte said the decision is a matter of transparency and accountability within the federal rulemaking process.
“To be clear, while this amendment makes important changes to preserve the rulemaking and review requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Congressional Review Act, it does not solve what many believe are the fundamental problems with the Dairy Market Stabilization Program,” he says. “I do not believe the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and supply management for dairy should be a part of this legislation, and I will address this when the legislation is brought to the House floor.
“However, at minimum Congress should ensure that those affected by this intrusive program have the right to comment on regulations governing the program and that Congress also reserves the right to review the program.”
Kozak says that “while this is not the approach we chose, we see it as acceptable. The important thing is to get dairy reform enacted for the nation’s milk producers. If it requires this amendment to do that, we can live with that.”
U.S. cheese production in April
up 3.2 percent vs. 2012
June 7, 2013
WASHINGTON — Total U.S. cheese production, excluding cottage cheese, was 928.2 million pounds in April 2013, 3.2 percent above April 2012’s 899.4 million pounds but 2.9 percent below March 2013’s 955.6 million pounds, according to preliminary data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Dairy Production chart.)
When adjusting for the length of the months, April 2013 U.S. cheese production was up 0.4 percent from March on a daily average basis.
Italian-type cheese production totaled 397.0 million pounds in April, up 2.9 percent from April 2012. Mozzarella, the most-produced Italian-type cheese, totaled 306.5 million pounds in April 2013, up 1.4 percent from a year earlier.
American-type cheese production totaled 373.1 million pounds in April 2013, up 2.4 percent from April 2012. Cheddar, the most-produced American-type variety, was 2.4 percent above April 2012 at 276.3 million pounds.
Wisconsin led the nation’s cheese production with 232.0 million pounds in April 2013, up 2.6 percent from its production a year earlier. California followed with 193.1 million pounds, up 2.2 percent from its production a year earlier.
The next four cheese-producing states were Idaho with 71.7 million pounds, up 1.8 percent from its production a year earlier; New York with 64.5 million pounds, up 9.6 percent; New Mexico with 63.4 million pounds, up 0.7 percent; and Minnesota with 55.1 million pounds, up 2.2 percent.
NASS reports U.S. butter production totaled 169.3 million pounds in April 2013, down 0.3 percent from April 2012’s 169.9 million pounds and down 6.9 percent from March 2013’s 182.0 million pounds.
California led the nation’s butter production with 56.8 million pounds produced in April, down 5.0 percent from its production a year earlier.
Cabecou, Wagon Wheel
top awards in California
June 7, 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Cabecou, a soft goat’s milk cheese with olive oil and herbs made by Laura Chenel’s Chevre, and Wagon Wheel, a semi-hard cow milk’s cheese made by Cowgirl Creamery, received the Best of Show awards in the goat’s and cow’s milk categories respectively at the recent 2013 California State Fair California Cheese Competition.
The Best of Show cheeses, as well as all other Best of Division winners, will be displayed in the California Foodstyle Building during the California State Fair, which runs July 12 through July 28. The formal announcement of the competition winners will be made at “California’s Grape and Gourmet” event Aug. 22 at Cal Expo.
This year’s event included more goat and water buffalo varieties than previous years. Nine judges evaluated 156 cheese entries in cow, goat, sheep, water buffalo and mixed milk categories. Judges included: Darrell Corti, Sacramento grocer and food and wine guru; Mary Dedrick, Dedrick’s Main Street Cheese, Placerville, Calif.; Lynn Devereux, Marin French Cheese and Laura Chenel’s Chevre; Kiri Fisher, cheese educator; Sacha Laurin, cheesemaker/teacher, Many Moon Cheese, Davis Food Co-op; Thalassa Skinner, founder, Culture; Jana Werner, Market Hall Foods; Les Wood, retired, California Department of Food and Agriculture; and Moshe Rosenberg, professor and specialist, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis.
Best of Division winners and medalists in each category included:
• Soft Cheese Category (Cow)
Bronze: Gypsy Cheese Co., Valley Ford, Calif., Caravan.
Bronze: Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, Calif., Smoked Scamorza.
Bronze: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Garlic Curds.
Bronze: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Firehouse Curds - Pepper.
• Soft Cheese Category (Goat)
Best of Division: Laura Chenel’s Chevre, Sonoma, Calif., Cabecou - Olive Oil, Herbs.
Gold: Cypress Grove Chevre, Arcata, Calif., Purple Haze - fennel pollen and lavender.
Gold: Jollity Farm, Garden Valley, Calif., Feta.
Silver: Cypress Grove Chevre, Arcata, Calif., PsycheDillic.
Silver: Jollity Farm, Garden Valley, Calif., Chevre.
Silver: Laura Chenel’s Chevre, Sonoma, Calif., Honey Log - Orange Blossom Honey.
Silver: Laura Chenel’s Chevre, Sonoma, Calif., Truffle Log - Black Truffle.
Silver: Sierra Nevada Cheese Co., Willows, Calif., Bella Capra Chevre - Original.
Bronze: Laura Chenel’s Chevre, Sonoma, Calif., 8-ounce Log.
Bronze: Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif., Redwood Hill Farm Chevre - Three Peppercorn.
• Semi-Soft Cheese Category (Cow)
Best of Division: Marin French Cheese Co., Petaluma, Calif., Petite Crème.
Silver: Marin French Cheese Co., Petaluma, Calif., Brie, Traditional.
Silver: Marin French Cheese Co., Petaluma, Calif., Triple Crème Brie - Truffle.
Silver: Marin French Cheese Co., Petaluma, Calif., Petite Camembert.
Silver: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Point Reyes Station, Calif., Point Reyes Original Blue.
Silver: Rumiano, Rumiano Cheese Co., Crescent City, Calif., Smoked Mozzarella - Hickory Smoked.
Bronze: Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif., Muenster.
Bronze: Marin French Cheese Co., Petaluma, Calif., Triple Crème Brie.
• Semi-Soft Cheese Category (Goat)
Best of Division: Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif., Terra.
Silver: Cypress Grove Chevre, Arcata, Calif., Humboldt Fog mini - dill pollen and dill leaves.
Silver: Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif., Cameo - peppercorns and herbs.
Silver: Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif., Bucheret.
Bronze: Laura Chenel’s Chevre, Sonoma, Calif., Melodie.
Bronze: Cypress Grove Chevre, Arcata, Calif., Truffle Tremor - black truffles.
• Semi-Hard Cheese Category (Cow)
Best of Division: Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, Calif., Wagon Wheel.
Gold: Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, Calif., Red Hawk.
Gold: Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, Calif., HopScotch Cheddar soaked in Scotch Ale (Beer).
Gold: Bear Flag Brand, Vella Cheese Co., Sonoma, Calif., Jalapeno Daisy Cheddar.
Gold: Clover Stornetta Farms, Petaluma, Calif., Monterey Jack.
Gold: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Sage Cheddar.
Silver: Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, Calif., Tarragon Cheddar.
Silver: Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif., Marbled Jack.
Silver: Joseph Gallo Farms, Atwater, Calif., Medium Cheddar.
Silver: Loleta Cheese Co., Loleta, Calif., Humboldt Garden Cheddar.
Silver: Rumiano Family Natural, Rumiano Cheese Co., Crescent City, Calif., Pepper Jack - Jalapeno Pepper.
Silver: Rumiano Family Organic, Rumiano Cheese Co., Crescent City, Calif., Organic Monterey Jack -
Grass-fed Jersey Cows’ Milk.
Silver: Sierra Nevada Cheese Co., Willows, Calif., Grass-fed Raw Milk Medium Cheddar - Medium White.
Silver: Sonoma Cheddar, Sonoma Creamery Cheese, Sonoma, Calif., Chipotle Cheddar.
Silver: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Garlic Jack.
Silver: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Pesto Jack.
Silver: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Mike’s Firehouse Jack - Pepper.
Silver: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Mike’s Smoked Firehouse Cheddar - Smoked Pepper.
Bronze: Clover Stornetta Farms, Petaluma, Calif., Medium Cheddar.
Bronze: Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, Calif., Chimney Rock - shitake and prippini mushrooms savory and pepper.
Bronze: Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, Calif., Bandage Wrapped Cheddar.
Bronze: Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, Calif., Chipotle Cheddar.
Bronze: Sierra Nevada Cheese Co., Willows, Calif., Grass-fed Raw Milk Monterey Jack.
Bronze: Sierra Nevada Cheese Co., Willows, Calif., Grass-fed Raw Milk Jalapeno Jack.
Bronze: Petaluma Creamery, Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Goat White Cheddar.
• Semi-Hard Cheese Category (Sheep, Buffalo)
Silver: Bleating Heart Cheese, Tomales, Calif., Shepherdista.
Silver: North Bay Curds & Whey, Valley Ford, Calif., Buffalo Project No. 2, Mediterranean Basket.
• Hard Cheese Category (Cow)
Best of Division: Willow Maid, Rumiano Cheese Co., Crescent City, Calif., Dry Monterey Jack.
Gold: Bear Flag Brand, Vella Cheese Co., Sonoma, Calif., Special Select Dry Monterey Jack.
Silver: Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Dry Jack.
Silver: Petaluma Creamery, Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Peppercorn Dry Jack.
Bronze: Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, Calif., San Joaquin Gold.
Bronze: Willow Maid, Rumiano Cheese Co., Crescent City, Calif., Dry Monterey Jack w/ Peppercorns (Peppato).
• Hard Cheese Category (Mixed)
Bronze: Pennyroyal Farm Boonville, Calif., Boont Corners Reserve.
• California Originals (Cow)
Best of Division: Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Nicasio, Calif., San Geronimo.
Gold: Fiscalini Farms, Modesto, Calif., Lionza.
Silver: Bear Flag Brand, Vella Cheese Co., Sonoma, Calif., Mezzo Secco.
Silver: Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, Calif., Mt. Tam.
Bronze: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Point Reyes Station, Calif., Point Reyes Bay Blue.
• California Originals (Goat, Sheep, mixed)
Silver: North Bay Curds & Whey, Valley Ford, Calif., Buffalo-Goat Blend.
Silver: Cypress Grove Chevre, Arcata, Calif., Humboldt Fog Grande.
Bronze: Bleating Heart Cheese, Tomales, Calif., Fat Bottomed Girl.
Bronze: Bohemian Creamery, Sebastopol, Calif., Cowabunga.
• Cultured Cheese (Cow)
Silver: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Kefir.
Silver: Orland Farmstead Creamery, Orland, Calif., Fromage Blanc Fig Torte.
Bronze: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Creme Fraiche.
Bronze: Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Nicasio, Calif., Foggy Morning.
Bronze: Orland Farmstead Creamery, Orland, Calif., Fromage Blanc.
• Cultured Cheese (Goat)
Silver: Redwood Hill Farm, Sebastopol, Calif., Redwood Hill Farm Kefir - Mango Orange Pineapple.
• Cottage Cheese Category (Cow)
Best of Division: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Organic 4-percent Cottage Cheese.
Gold: Crystal Creamery, Sacramento, Calif., Cottage Cheese.
Silver: Crystal Creamery, Sacramento, Calif., Low Fat Cottage Cheese.
Silver: Crystal Creamery, Sacramento, Calif., Pineapple Cottage Cheese.
Silver: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Natural Lowfat Cottage Cheese.
Silver: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Organic Lowfat Cottage Cheese.
Silver: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Lowfat Cottage Cheese.
Silver: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Natural 4-percent Cottage Cheese.
Silver: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., 4-percent Cottage Cheese.
Bronze: Dairy Fresh, Saputo Dairy Foods, Tulare, Calif., Large Curd Cottage Cheese.
House panel OKs fiscal 2014
ag funding measure
June 7, 2013
WASHINGTON — A U.S. House Appropriations Committee subcommittee this week marked up a fiscal year 2014 agriculture appropriations bill. The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor later this month.
The bill totals $19.5 billion in discretionary funding, which is $1.3 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and approximately equal to the current level caused by automatic sequestration spending cuts. This total is $516 million below President Obama’s request for these programs.
“We rely on American farmers and ranchers to provide us with the food and products we need every day. This bill will fund critical agricultural programs to support our farmers and ranchers, ensure the safety and sustainability of our food and drug supply, and offer some needed help to families who are facing the dangers of hunger,” says Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
House Appropriations Committee subcommittee chair Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., adds that the funding in the bill will “help keep America’s agricultural research cutting-edge, maintain vibrant rural communities, provide nutrition to those most vulnerable and keep our markets competitive while maintaining the safest food and drug supply in the world.”
The agencies and programs in the bill will receive a total of $139.4 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding — $2.6 billion below the president’s request and $52 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
The programs funded in this bill, including agriculture production, promotion, research and marketing, will help build upon the estimated $139.5 billion in U.S. agricultural exports this year — the highest level on record, lawmakers say.
Some of the bill’s highlights include:
• Agricultural Research — The bill provides $2.5 billion for agriculture research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is approximately equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted funding level.
• Animal and Plant Health — The legislation includes $803.5 million, approximately equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level, for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This funding will provide support for programs to help control or eradicate plant and animal pests and diseases that can be crippling to U.S. producers and entire agricultural industries.
• Conservation Programs — The bill provides $823 million,$2.3 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level, for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land. This includes $12 million in conservation funding for dam rehabilitation to help small communities ensure their small watershed projects meet current safety standards.
• Farm Service Agency (FSA) — The legislation provides $1.5 billion for FSA, which is equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. This funding will support the various farm, conservation, loan and emergency programs for American farmers and ranchers.
• Rural Development — The bill provides a total of $2.2 billion for rural development programs, which is equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. These programs help create an environment for economic growth by supporting basic rural infrastructure, providing loans to increase opportunities for rural businesses and industries, and helping balance the playing field in local rural housing markets.
• Food Safety and Inspection Service — The legislation includes $999 million for food safety and inspection programs, which is $31 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
• FDA — FDA receives a total of almost $2.5 billion in discretionary funding in the bill, an increase of $24 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. Total funding for FDA, including revenue from user fees, is $4.3 billion. Within this total, food safety activities are increased by $27 million, and drug safety activities are increased by $2.5 million.
• Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) — Included in the bill is $195 million for the CFTC, the agency’s current operating level, which is a cut of $10 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $120 million below the president’s budget request.
• Food and Nutrition Programs —The legislation contains discretionary funding, as well as mandatory funding required by law, for food and nutrition programs within USDA. This includes funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Child Nutrition programs.
• WIC — The bill provides $6.7 billion in discretionary funding for WIC, which is $214 million below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $487 million below the president’s request. This program provides supplemental nutritional foods needed by pregnant and nursing mothers, babies and young children.
• Child nutrition programs — The bill provides for $20.45 billion in required mandatory funding, which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of the appropriations committee, for child nutrition programs. This is $561 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. This funding will provide for an estimated 5.6 billion free or reduced-price school lunches and snacks for 32.1 million children who qualify for the program.
• SNAP — The bill provides for $76.3 billion in required mandatory spending, which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of the appropriations committee, for SNAP. This is $958 million below last year’s level and $2 billion below the president’s budget request.
Stand-up packaging for shreds
is new trend in the dairy case
May 31, 2013
By Rena Archwamety
MADISON, Wis. — Shredded cheese typically is found hanging on rows of pegs in the dairy aisle, but with a new packaging trend, the options have increased for displaying these products.
Many cheese companies have converted their shreds to or are looking into offering stand-up packaging — pouches with gusseted bases that allow the product to stand up on grocery shelves or consumers’ counter tops. Reasons for this conversion range from offering consumers more convenience, to preparing for possible shelving changes at major retailers, to keeping up with the latest innovations and trends in packaging.
“Just about everyone we’ve talked to dealing with retail shredded products has talked to us about the opportunities or availability to change over,” says Brian Sturgill, director of marketing, Curwood.
Sturgill says Curwood currently is working with a number of cheese companies that are in the process of developing a stand-up bag option for shreds.
“I think the packaging format has caught on,” he says. “From a sustainability, convenience for the consumer and a cost standpoint, the advantages really seem to resonate with the production world and the consumer world. I think we will see this across the board eventually once capacity catches up.”
• Features and benefits
Compared to the flat pouch traditionally used for shredded cheese, the stand-up pouch uses less material both in the total weight of the package as well as total square inches, Sturgill says.
“Along with that, there are a lot of other things — cases are smaller, so you can put more on a pallet. You’re shipping more and using less freight,” he says. “The amount of material going into landfills from both a producer and consumer standpoint is less.”
Earlier this year, flexible packaging company Exopack was honored by the Flexible Packaging Association with a Silver Award for Sustainability and Environmental Achievement for Exopack’s Crystal Farms Shredded Cheese Stand Up Pouch. According to Exopack, the new package eases meal preparation for consumers while eliminating 20 percent of the plastic materials traditionally required. The package also eliminates 30 percent of the typical printed face area associated with shredded cheese bags, which reduces ink usage and solvent emissions during manufacture.
Crystal Farms, which first rolled out stand-up pouches for select shredded cheeses in 2011, held its official launch of the new packaging in early 2013. The company hopes to switch all its shred varieties except for its 2-pound packs to the gusseted packaging by the end of this year.
Hollie Schroeder, product manager at Crystal Farms, says the company took a cue from other products when considering its packaging redesign.
“We saw things like granola and snack nuts being merchandised in these stand-up gusset bags,” she says. “From a consumer standpoint, they can store it in more places than just the drawer. When it comes to usage, they can grab it, sprinkle it on lasagna and set it down without spillage happening. Lastly, there is the ability not to dirty another bowl. They can set it up and put it on their food as they please.”
One challenge, Schroeder says, is conveying to consumers that Crystal Farms has not downsized the amount of cheese in the bag despite its smaller size. To overcome this hurdle, the company has increased the size of its call-outs, added shelf talkers and recently launched a radio campaign talking about the features of its new packaging.
Crystal Farms partnered with market research firm InContext Solutions as it developed the new packaging and its go-to-market strategy. The research from InContext Solutions found that consumers liked the greater convenience of a bag that can sit upright while cooking, and the stand-up pouch was more functional and easier to pour. Additionally, the package facing was reduced by 30 percent, allowing more items to fit on the retailer shelf.
“That’s huge, especially when looking at the varieties today,” Schroeder says. “The ability to offer consumers more variety in the same amount of space was a definite driver.”
• Wave of change
While stand-up pouches have been prevalent in a number of other food categories for years, Sturgill says Curwood first saw increasing demand for stand-up packaging for cheese around last summer.
“With brands like Crystal Farms and Market Pantry getting into the market, and understanding not only the sustainability but also the cost aspect of this packaging, it really proliferated other folks jumping in quite rapidly,” Sturgill says.
Masters Gallery Foods, which processes shredded cheese for private label retail and foodservice, has invested significantly in its stand-up shred packaging capabilities over the last couple years and now offers stand-up pouches from 5-ounce through 2-pound sizes in its portfolio.
Jeff Gentine, executive vice president of Masters Gallery Foods, says many of the company’s larger retail shred customers are looking at gusseted packaging, particularly now that Kraft Foods is expected to be switching to stand-up packaging in 2014.
“Gusset capability, and capacity, is something we feel we’ve got to have to stay ahead of demand,” he says. “Many of our customers have gone from indifference toward the gusset to high interest, largely because of Kraft. They don’t want their store brand to suddenly be perceived as inferior simply because it’s not in the latest packaging.”
Masters Gallery Foods’ packaging lines can switch back and forth between the new gusseted and traditional pillow packaging.
“While the pillow bag remains a viable option, we recognized the trend was coming and made the decision to integrate gusset technology into our lines,” Gentine says.
The company has had previous experience with stand-up packaging, which it started offering nearly 10 years ago for 2-pound shreds. It also has experimented with small stand-up bags in the past; however, the smaller sizes were too cost prohibitive for the demand at that time. The company’s newest gusset line for 5-16 ounce bags was introduced last fall, and another line will be available by late summer.
“Despite our ongoing investments we have no plans to convert all our existing pillow business over to gussets — we’d like to control it as it makes sense for us and our customers,” Gentine says.
• Retail shift
Stand-up packaging may offer material and transportation savings for the manufacturer and more convenience for the consumer, but another key driver of the trend is retailers, who benefit from the package’s flexibility in displays and ease of stocking.
“When retailers feature shred promotions on endcaps, some retailers will have limited pegs within the endcap, and some don’t have any,” Gentine says. “Now if they want to stand up the bags on the shelf for a promotion, they can do that. The smaller bag may also allow for more pegs within the dairy case, but the downside is the pack out is not as great with the gusset bag so some of those extra pegs may be needed for duplicate items to avoid out-of-stocks.”
Display-ready packaging is another possibility that could make stand-up shredded cheese pouches less labor intensive for retailers, though this would involve more expensive boxes and different packing equipment, which would be a bigger investment for manufacturers, Gentine notes.
“While I see the retailer and consumer benefits of the gusseted bag, the jury is still out as to whether or not it will help the industry sell more shredded cheese, but time will tell” he says.
Sturgill says a few yeas ago supermarkets started talking about retail-ready packaging and moving away from pegs and into stand-up packaging.
“About three to four years ago, folks like Walmart and Kroger talked about moving away from the peg and more to the shelf,” he says. “With the labor it takes for their people to rotate inventory, it was easier to slide a case in and slide it out. Their idea of retail-ready forced cheesemakers and other customers to think, ‘How will we handle this problem?’”
Crystal Farms has found benefits in its ability to use its stand-up packaging in endcap displays, though Schroeder says most of its shredded cheese packages still hang on pegs in grocery stores.
“We realized if we’re the only company that changes to gusset, the probability of going to shelving is limited,” she says. “If more competitors move to gusset bags, I think we will see more set on shelves.”
About 75-80 percent of Crystal Farms’ retailers have chosen to switch over to its new stand-up packaging, Schroeder says.
“Everybody likes the new packaging, but some people decided to hold off until major brands went to it so they can do resets at the same time,” she says.
Capacity is the biggest constraint right now as not all manufacturers and co-packers have the ability to run stand-up packaging on their machines, Sturgill says.
He adds that while other grocery segments Curwood works with have used stand-up pouches for years, it has only now begun to catch on with cheeses.
“It is not a unique format, but it is something the cheese market is finding value in today,” he says. “We’ve always tried to figure why consumers haven’t gravitated toward that. I think part of it was how it fit into their refrigerator and lives. But as cheese becomes a bigger part of consumers’ lives — they snack more, make finer foods, adding cheese as a prevalent part of their diet — they treat it like other brands and food markets out there.”
Feta market shows steady growth,
holds more potential
May 31, 2013
By Aaron Martin
MADISON, Wis. — Driven by its health benefits and overall growth of the Mediterranean dairy category, Feta cheese has grown dramatically in popularity and production in recent years.
According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), Feta was first produced in Greece from sheep’s or goat’s milk. Cheesemakers refer to Feta as “pickled” because after formation, it is packed in brine, which produces a tart and salty flavor and gives the cheese a crumbly, moist texture. The brine preserves the cheese for approximately six months longer than most fresh cheeses.
“Feta does not have a Federal Standard of Identity, or Codex, like most other cheeses,” says Donnie Fike, statistician, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Washington, D.C. “For statistical purposes, USDA gathers data on cheeses that are produced to be sold as Feta.”
Overall, Feta production has increased dramatically since USDA first began recording its production in a separate category three years ago. In 2010, Feta production in the United States totaled 77.5 million pounds. In 2011, Feta production climbed to 107.3 million pounds. In 2012, Feta production topped 108.5 million pounds, according to NASS data.
According to dairy product production numbers released by NASS, nationwide Feta production was at 6.8 million pounds in January. In February, Feta production jumped to 7.6 million pounds. In March, Feta production climbed to 8.6 million pounds.
Recent increases in production of Feta can be attributed to a number of factors: the overall surge in the popularity of Mediterranean cuisine, increased consumer awareness in the health benefits of Feta and more varieties of Feta that have made the category more versatile.
Arthur Schuman Inc. (ASI), Fairfield, N.J., has played a role in expanding the Feta category with new varieties and twists. Melissa Shore, marketing director, ASI, says the company imports and markets two types of Feta: a Greek variety and an Israeli variety. Israeli Feta, which is made from 100-percent sheep’s milk, is known as a more “full-flavored,” less salty variety than its Greek counterpart, which is typically made with at least 70 percent sheep’s milk.
Other varieties of Feta include: American (made with sheep’s, goat’s or cow’s milk and typically crumbly in texture), Bulgarian (which is made from sheep’s milk and is creamier in texture), and French Feta (made with sheep’s milk and regarded as mild and creamy).
Saputo Specialty Cheese (formerly DCI Cheese Co.), Richfield, Wis., markets American-style Feta made with cow’s milk under its Nikos label. Since Saputo Specialty Cheese acquired the Nikos brand in 2004, the Nikos brand has consistently grown along with the overall Feta market in the United States.
Katie Jury, marketing manager, Saputo Specialty Cheese, says Feta marketing campaigns have consistently focused on the product’s health benefits, and that has helped Feta claim a progressively larger market share.
“Consumers are very health-conscious, and the Feta market has been driven by that,” Jury says. “Feta can really help promote a healthier diet and can help consumers lose weight. That is a really nice attribute for the Feta category.”
The Chicago-based Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) encourages consumers to substitute Feta for Cheddar and Brie because Feta is lower in calories per ounce. The academy says that 1 ounce of Feta contains about 75 calories and 6 grams of fat, while 1 ounce of Cheddar contains 114 calories and 9 grams of fat.
Saputo Specialty Cheese recently wrapped up a 2-month Nikos promotion that used a partnership with the Biggest Loser Resort to highlight Feta’s health benefits. The promotional partnership between Nikos and the Biggest Loser Resort drew more than 60,000 entries for a chance to win free memberships to the weight-loss resort and garnered additional public interest that was generated by the recent season finale of the Biggest Loser television show on NBC.
“We’ve received some sales results already, and our Feta sales were up more than 40 percent during the 2-month promotion,” Jury says.
Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., began producing American-style, cow’s milk Feta in the 1980s. The company then expanded production with the opening of a new Feta plant in 2001.
“We used to have to dip all the Feta by hand. We had small, 14,000-pound open vats,” says Adam Buholzer, vice president of production, Klondike. “Cutting was manual and the dipping was basically done by hand with a little basket, and then it was put into forms, so it was a ton of work before we expanded Feta production with the opening of a new facility in 2001.”
That plant expansion has allowed Klondike to dramatically increase its Feta production. Today, Klondike produces about 26 million pounds of Feta each year for its own Odyssey label as well as for private label customers.
“We have been fortunate to have an average of 10 percent annual growth every year,” says Luke Buholzer, vice president of marketing, Klondike. “For health-conscious consumers, Feta is recognized as a lower-fat cheese. That promotes its usage for people who want a great healthier cheese without sacrificing the flavor.”
In addition, Feta has received more media coverage, which has helped inform consumers that Feta isn’t merely a healthy alternative to other types of cheeses, but rather that Feta’s unique flavor profile and versatility make it perfect for dressing up a wide range of recipes.
“One reason we believe Feta has grown in the market is because people are creating unique dishes at home,” Luke Buholzer says. “The popularity of cooking shows and the increase in restaurant menu items with Feta cheese have given consumers more exposure and willingness to experiment with Feta.”
In addition to increased media exposure, Feta also has benefited from the soaring popularity of Mediterranean food overall, and Greek yogurt in particular.
“The boom in the Greek yogurt category is helping the Mediterranean category, and that’s helping the Feta category,” Jury says. “We’re seeing (the Mediterranean) trend reflected in Feta packaging, which is designed to make the product appear fresh and healthy. It has a bright Mediterranean feel to it.”
The evolution of Feta packaging does not end with cosmetics. New packaging concepts have been introduced to the market that aim to make Feta more convenient for consumers to use. Retail cups have been designed so that the lids can be used as a shaker for Feta crumbles. A recent innovation for packaging Feta slices features two foil-wrapped slices of Feta inserted in a sleek cardboard sleeve that resembles Greek yogurt packaging.
“It’s a concept that targets younger consumers and those who do not consume large amounts of Feta and would prefer a smaller package that meets their needs,” says Coroflot, a New York City-based consulting and design firm.
Other new packaging innovations combine Feta and secondary ingredients such as olive oil, oregano and thyme as well as other herbs with strong flavor.
“The fact that the ingredients are offered in separate containers emphasizes the increased quality of both products while at the same time the consumer has the opportunity to serve the cheese by itself,” Coroflot says.
Moving forward, new varieties of Feta being introduced to the market could be one of the biggest drivers of the category’s continued growth.
Nikos has been consistently expanding its Feta offerings throughout the years, Jury notes, and is now available in Traditional Feta, Mediterranean Feta, Peppercorn Feta, Tomato Basil Feta and Fat Free Feta.
Luke Buholzer adds that along with specialty flavors of Feta, dips and other market segments could be a driver of future growth.
“There is increasing demand for Feta production as more applications become available to consumers,” he says. “More pack sizes and convenient packaging will grow to accommodate the busy lifestyles consumers have. So will products that are produced with Feta as an ingredient. There are already a few Feta dips and spreads on the market, and that may continue to grow to help expand the category also.”
As the popularity and production of Feta continue to grow, companies are poised to respond to that growth with expansion plans.
Nasonville Dairy Inc., Marshfield, Wis., underwent improvements that brought an additional 3,000 square feet of space and new packaging and production equipment to its Feta production line in 2012. Nasonville also is working on adding 10,000 square feet of additional cooler space that will be used for Feta and Cheddar storage.
“Last year we had an increase in Feta production, and this year we will upgrade that area to enlarge it even more than it already has been,” says Ken Heimen, secretary, Nasonville.
Klondike also has plans to ramp up its Feta plant in the near future. Ron Buholzer, president, Klondike, announced during an open house held at Klondike’s facility in March that the company’s next building project would address space issues in its Feta plant.
“Our crumble room is not big enough, so that’s one of the next things we have to do is address that,” Ron Buholzer says.
Wis. raw milk farmer acquitted on three counts
May 31, 2013
BARABOO, Wis. — A Wisconsin dairy farmer who was on trial last week over charges related to selling raw milk and other food items without a license has been acquitted on three counts and found guilty on one count.
Vernon Hershberger faced four criminal misdemeanor charges in a highly-publicized trial held in Sauk County Circuit Court. Many of Hershberger’s supporters and food freedom activists traveled to Baraboo, Wis., to participate in events organized by the Farm Food Freedom Coalition throughout the week of the trial. (See “Raw milk supporters to rally at Hershberger trial; report warns of growing outbreaks” in the May 17, 2013, issue of Cheese Market News.)
The Wisconsin Department of Justice brought the criminal complaint against Hershberger in 2011, saying he had over several years continued to operate a retail food establishment and dairy operation without a license, despite repeated warnings and visits by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Hershberger claimed he did not need a license because he only provided food to paid members in a private buying club not subject to state food regulations.
In the verdict, which came at 1:30 a.m. May 25, Hershberger was acquitted on charges of operating a retail food establishment without a license, operating without a milk producer’s license and operating without a dairy plant license. He was found guilty of violating a food holding order that DATCP had placed on items in his store in 2010. A sentencing date has not yet been set for this charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months of incarceration, a fine of $10,000, and the retail value of the product moved, sold or disposed of in violation of the order.
“The maximum penalty is still a small price to pay compared to the price of a guilty conscience because of letting good food spoil while families with small children are in need of it,” Hershberger says. “I consider it a great honor to suffer for the cause of the truth and the good of my community.”
As to the first three charges of which he was acquitted, Hershberger says: “I am very proud of the people in Sauk County who served on the jury for sending the message to the state and DATCP that it is absolute nonsense and a complete waste of tax dollars to interfere with peaceful peoples’ natural right to peacefully assemble to procure the foods of their choice from the producer of their choice.”
The Wisconsin Department of Justice says evidence was presented at the trial that Hershberger was informed in 2007 that the sale of food without a retail food establishment license violated the law. Hershberger again was contacted by DATCP in 2009 about his sale of food without a retail food establishment license, at which time he claimed he did not need one. In 2010, a holding order was served on Hershberger that prohibited the sale or movement of specific food products. The Wisconsin Department of Justice says he violated that holding order by disposing of and moving food products placed under it.
“Businesses operating within Wisconsin are subject to Wisconsin law,” says Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. “The Department of Justice, in coordination with DATCP, stands ready to investigate and enforce violations to ensure all businesses compete under applicable Wisconsin statues.”
Dairy to take center stage with events,
promotions on tap nationwide for June Dairy Month
May 31, 2013
By Aaron Martin
MADISON, Wis. — Dairy promotion will take center stage during June Dairy Month as organizations across the country aim to promote the nutritional, economic and environmental benefits of dairy products.
Although dairy promotion is a year-round effort, June Dairy Month serves as a launching point for marketing campaigns and promotions that will continue throughout the summer.
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) aims to provide fun and educational ways for consumers to celebrate the dairy industry during June Dairy Month.
WMMB is once again commemorating June Dairy Month with the Dairy Days of Summer campaign that was launched last year. The campaign centers on a website, www.dairydaysofsummer.com, that features recipes, an interactive calendar of events, activities and promotions designed to help consumers celebrate.
“June is the traditional time to celebrate Wisconsin’s vibrant dairy industry,” says Dave Bavlnka, vice president of advertising, WMMB. “There’s something for everyone to enjoy — from dairy breakfasts to special community celebrations. The online events calendar makes finding the perfect events for you quick and easy.”
The popular dairy farm breakfast locator map featured on the website is searchable by date or location. More than 60 farms across Wisconsin will welcome the public for breakfast during the month of June.
“June Dairy Month is all about working together to celebrate, so if we can help spread the word about an event that’s promoting great dairy products with the state, all the better,” says Heather Porter Engwall, director of national product communications, WMMB. “We also have partnerships with retail stores and producers who offer specials and coupons during the month of June, so people can search for events or discounts or farm breakfasts. It’s a great partnership all the way around.”
In addition, the website offers a collection of more than 40 dairy-inspired recipes, ranging from breakfast and appetizers to dinner and desserts. Among the new June Dairy Month recipe options are Pear Brunch Cake, Cottage Cheese Tart, Quadruple Chocolate Ice Box Cake, Mascarpone Lemon Ice Box Parfait and Coffee and Caramel Shake.
“We have also started a Wisconsin Dairy Facebook page for Wisconsinites to ‘like’ and share photos and get updates on recipes throughout the month,” Engwall adds.
California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has a full slate of events and promotions planned to promote dairy in the Golden State.
“June is our favorite month of the year — our second is July Ice Cream Month, of course — because it allows us to not only spotlight the diversity of California dairy products, but also our industry in the Golden State, and it’s importance to the local economy,” says Jennifer Giambroni, director of communications, CMAB. “(June Dairy Month) also allows us to showcase the many ways dairy fits the latest food trends and how dairy foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet.”
This year, CMAB is continuing its 30 Days of California Dairy calendar, which offers consumers tips on using dairy in their everyday lives. The calendar is created in a grid that enables it to be integrated into social media channels for use by retailers and dairy producers who wish to utilize it in their own social media activities.
On social media, CMAB is working with four bloggers to host a “So Very Dairy” Pinterest promotion and “30 Day Dairy Challenge” Instagram photo gallery. The gallery will be shared with the more than 192,000 fans of CMAB’s “Real California Milk” Facebook page.
CMAB also is producing an informational “Dairy Do’s and Don’ts” release to help consumers navigate such things as sell-by dates and other dairy storage and usage questions. Also, each year CMAB works with the governor’s office to issue a proclamation declaring June “Real California Milk Month” in California.
Midwest Dairy Association, which represents 9,500 dairy families across 10 states from North Dakota to Arkansas, also will use a mixture of online tools and educational efforts to encourage people to take part in festivities across the region and utilize dairy products.
Midwest Dairy Association will continue its theme from last year, “Healthy People, Healthy Community, Healthy Planet.”
“This year we’re doing something very special,” says Kathleen Cuddy, vice president of integrated communications, Midwest Dairy Association. “We’re using the theme ‘Feeding the Nation,’ and to help promote the dairy farmer’s role in helping feed the nation, we are partnering with Feeding America, the national charitable organization that oversees many of the food banks in the nation.”
Midwest Dairy Association is encouraging organizers of dairy breakfasts and other events to place food donation barrels for Feeding America at their event. In addition, the organization has created a parody video called “Feeding the Nation” that is set to the Beach Boys’ song “Good Vibrations.” For each view the video gets, Midwest Dairy Association will donate $1 to Feeding America with hopes of reaching $20,000 in donations.
“We’re also going to be refreshing our website, www.dairymakessense.com, with new recipes as well as links to all of the June Dairy Month breakfasts and open houses across our 10-state region,” Cuddy says.
On the social media front, Midwest Dairy association has organized a Pinterest contest that encourages people to visit dairy farms and post their findings for a chance to win $2,000.
In addition, the Midwest Dairy Association also is promoting the dairy industry through its Retail Dietician Tool Kit, which is designed specifically for June Dairy Month.
“This year we’re focusing on how dairy products are real, fresh and natural,” Cuddy says. “We’re providing consumers with tip sheets on milk, cheese and yogurt. We’re providing them with recipes to help them enjoy these healthy products.”
Midwest Dairy Association works with retail dieticians on in-store promotions throughout June Dairy Month. The program places dieticians in retail settings to educate consumers about how nutritious dairy products are. The online component of the dietary tool kits includes information and talking points that tout dairy benefits. Additionally, the organization is using its website to promote the history of June Dairy Month and engage visitors with dairy trivia facts.
Meanwhile, the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA)features a website that details the history of June Dairy Month from its beginning in the 1930s, when milk stores banded together to promote “National Milk Month,” until today. The website features a section that includes dairy region-specific trivia for each of the nine states covered by SUDIA. It also includes a recipe of the day with a feature that allows users to rate each recipe.
The Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association — which is based in Pennsylvania and also serves Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia — promotes June Dairy Month by offering an extensive history on its website, www.dairyspot.com. The organization also features dairy trivia, statistics and background information on women’s role in dairy.