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February 8, 2019
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Winona Foods adds products, expands its presence in retail
Product launches include Cheese Tiles and Goat Cheese Spreads that cater to snacking trends

SPREADABLE GOAT CHEESE — Winona Foods has introduced Cheese Crafters brand Goat Cheese Spreads in two flavors: Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic and Garden Herb.

ON THE GO SNACKING — Cheese Tiles, sold under the Cheese Crafters brand, are designed for on-the-go consumers, offering bite-size pieces of cheese that can be used on party platters, cheese boards, in kids’ lunches or for office snacking. They are offered in 6-ounce stand-up peggable, grab-and-go pouches with a resealable zipper top.

By Kate Sander

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Winona Foods Inc., a national supplier of cheese, sauces and salsas based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, continues to grow by offering new innovations for the dairy case. Expanding on its focus on private label, ingredient and foodservice products, the company has introduced a number of branded retail products to meet the needs of snacking consumers in addition to the needs of its foodservice and industrial customers.

“We offer various solution-based cheese programs to retail, foodservice, co-pack, industrial ingredient and private label segments. Our mission is to provide our customers exceptional dairy solutions and services of the highest quality,” says Nate Meyer, marketing manager, Winona Foods.

“We’ve done really well in foodservice and industrial, and retail is an area where we felt we could grow and expand our company,” adds Hillary Hildebrandt, regional sales manager, Winona Foods. “We’re versatile, and we’re looking to grow that segment in a big way.”

In the past couple of years, the company has introduced two new major products lines under its Cheese Crafters brand: Cheese Tiles and Goat Cheese Spreads.

Winona’s Cheese Crafters brand is focused around specialty cheese items and includes artisan natural cheese snacking items, as well as specialty goat cheese spreads, Meyer says.

In 2017, the company did a soft launch of Cheese Tiles at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association and Fancy Food shows, and it is now going to market with these items in a bigger way. The cheeses are designed for on-the-go consumers, offering bite-size pieces of Wisconsin cheese that can be used on party platters, cheese boards, in kids’ lunches or for office snacking.

“People are snacking now more than ever — Americans are averaging three snacks per day,” Meyer says.

“Shoppers are always looking for new, healthy ways to snack — and the more convenient the better. These products make it easy for shoppers to snack healthier. Natural cheese has always been a favored snack choice for shoppers, and our resealable pouch with unique tile-cut cheese offers a new snacking method.


“We’ve done really well in foodservice and industrial, and retail is an area where we felt we could grow and expand our company.
We’re versatile, and we’re looking to grow that segment in a big way.”

Hillary Hildebrandt
Winona Foods


“We wanted to bring an easy, fun, natural cheese product to market that was different than what’s currently offered to consumers,” he adds. “Cheese Tiles are offered in a 6-ounce stand-up peggable, grab-and-go pouch with a resealable zipper top for extended snacking.”

Focusing on sharper and less commonly-known flavors, Cheese Tiles currently are offered in Havarti, Sharp Cheddar and Gouda varieties.

The product line is primarily available on the East Coast, with plans to expand its distribution.

Winona Foods also is making the rounds with new customers with its new Goat Cheese Spreads officially launched this past summer.

“The goat milk cheese segment of the industry has seen a lot of innovation in recent years,” Meyer says.

The Cheese Crafters Goat Cheese Spreads are offered in two artisan flavors: Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic and Garden Herb.

“These products, like the Cheese Tiles, are geared toward people looking for healthy ways to snack,” Meyer says.

“Both offer great consistency and are perfect for dipping, using on bagels, wraps and more,” Meyer adds, noting the spreads offer a bold flavor that can be complemented with other snacking picks such as pretzels, vegetables and crackers. The spreads also are available under private label.

Last year, Winona Foods, which is headquartered in Green Bay and operates a facility there, opened a new 187,000-square-foot conversion and distribution facility in Howard, Wisconsin.


“Shoppers are always looking for new, healthy ways to snack — and the more convenient the better. These products make it easy for shoppers to snack healthier. Natural cheese has always been a favored snack choice for shoppers, and our resealable pouch with unique tile-cut cheese offers a new snacking method.”

Nate Meyer
Winona Foods


The new $30 million facility expands the company’s footprint in slicing, chunking, cubing and shredding, as well as its warehousing and distribution capabilities. The new facility, which includes a commercial kitchen/product performance center, is allowing the company to add 120 new employees and expands upon processing previously done at Winona’s Kaukauna, Wisconsin, facility.

The plant gives the company the capacity to add product depth, especially in the specialty category, says Bob Starkey, vice president, business development, Winona Foods.

Winona Foods has a wide range of capabilities including handling and converting 40-pound blocks, cold pack cheese, custom formulations and performance products. Another important area of growth for the business is its portion-control products. The company offers cheese sauces and queso cheeses in cups and flexible film pouches, and it has added line extensions in red sauces such as marinara, pizza sauce and salsa.

Offering more than 500 items, Winona Foods works with cheese companies from around the United States as well as imports cheese, Hildebrandt says. In addition to Cheese Crafters, the company’s brands include Della Terra Premium Italian Cheeses, Alejandro Mexican Cheeses, Socrates Authentic Greek Cheeses and Winona Reserve Artisan Cheeses.

“We have many production partners throughout the country, allowing us to provide solutions to our customers throughout the country,” Hildebrandt says, adding that the company collaborates with its customers to increase the market segments they are targeting.


“We are a one-stop shop that can provide commodity shredded Cheddar to cracker cuts to cubes to shaved Parm.
We can fill a truck with commodity products and solutions for the specialty business.”

Nate Meyer
Winona Foods


The company’s expertise in all segments of the cheese industry is helping drive growth, Hildebrandt adds.

Company owners Terry Steinmann, president, and Dave Meyer, vice president, both are licensed cheesemakers and are experts in cheese grading, she says, joking that they were “baptized in the vat.” They are third generation “cheese people” who know the industry inside and out and are driven to meet the unique needs of customers, she says, noting that longevity of relationships in the industry also is important to the company’s success.

The company doesn’t have boxes to check off, but instead works directly with customers to provide the products they need. If the company doesn’t have something, its staff is able to look outside the warehouse for the solution a customer needs, she says.

“We are a solution-driven, value-added partner,” says Nate Meyer, adding that exceptional “solutions, service, quality and value” are the key drivers that separate Winona Foods from other companies.

“We are a one-stop shop that can provide commodity shredded Cheddar to cracker cuts to cubes to shaved Parm,” he says. “We can fill a truck with commodity products and solutions for the specialty business.”

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