wanted to make artisan cheese, says Lisa Hall,
business manager for Saxon Creamery in
Cleveland, Wis. The creamery partners with
Saxon Homestead Farm, a fifth-generation
Wisconsin family farm whose cowherd grazes
daily on 2- to 6-acre paddocks with 35 different
plant species. “We only get milk from one farm,
which isn’t typical in Wisconsin,” says Hall.
Saxon Creamery currently produces 275,000
pounds of cheese a year.
The Creamery employs every avenue to
educate consumers and retailers about its
award-winning cheeses, including the retail
shop at its production facility. “If it’s a funkier-
looking or stinkier cheese, Wisconsin shoppers
may be wary,” says Hall, laughing. “Many peo-
ple here grew up on yellow cheddar and cheese
Sampling at the retail shop is an opportunity
to connect with the consumer and educate
them about artisan cheese. “If they haven’t
tried an out-of-the-box cheese, I recommend
starting with our gouda, which is buttery and
soft,” says Hall. “That’s my go-to if I’m intro-
ducing someone to artisan cheese.”
Hall finds that one of the most successful
avenues for education has been the WMMB’s
retailer tours, which bring cheese mongers and
deli personnel to the farm. “We get the most
amazing people who go back to their stores,
take ownership and educate customers about
our cheese making,” says Hall.
It’s a two-way street: Based on retailer feedback, Saxon Creamery has introduced new
products, such as a 5.3-ounce exact weight in
five of its cheese lines. “It has a UPC label, and
it’s ready to go,” she says. “Anytime we can connect with the front line, the results are amazing.”
Winning Over the World
The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association’s
(WCMA’s) premier event, the World Championship Cheese Contest, took place in March
with a record number of entries. The event,
held every even-numbered year—along with
the U.S. Cheese Contest, which takes place
every odd-numbered year—has launched the
careers of countless Wisconsin cheese makers.
“Wisconsin is the No. 1 source of entries
for the contests,” says Rebekah Sweeney,
communications and policy manager for the
WCMA. “It’s interesting because Wisconsin
does cheeses like mozzarella, colby and ched-
32 2018 CHEESE HANDBOOK WINSIGHT GROCERY BUSINESS
Anna Landmark (l)
and Anna Thomas
in Belleville, Wis.
Growth in the
category in the U. S.
in the past year.
Having a retail shop has
been really valuable,
as it allows us to get
direct feedback from our
—Anna Thomas Bates, Landmark Creamery
Grilled Cheese Showdown
This spring, the annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese
Recipe Showdown—the largest Wisconsin cheese
promotion of the year—is backed by six weeks
of marketing and public relations support.
Participating retailers last year reported as much
as a 15% increase in Wisconsin cheese sales.
Retailers can contact the WMMB to create
in-store promotions, branded point-of-sale
displays and live events that encourage sampling
and purchase, while building awareness for the
competition, which invites consumers to enter their
grilled cheese creations from April 2 through May 15.
Visit www.grilledcheeseacademy.com/contest for