wet region, where the land inhibits large-scale farming.
Redefining American Cheese
“They collect milk from more than 5,000 farmers with
five to eight goats each,” Schuman says. “It’s an artisanal
product on an industrial scale. Cheeses like this are cen-
terpieces of a culture.”
It’s compelling history that resonates with consum-
ers. “People today are looking for an authentic story,”
Schuman says. “They love the origin story. Those are all
there with designated cheeses.”
Wisconsin and California, the nation’s two largest cheese
producing states, have seals and certifications for certain
cheeses. But without a designation of origin seal for most
American-made cheese, how do specialty cheese producers and the retailers who sell their creations best communicate the tradition, quality and story behind them?
“While Vermont cheeses, like our Shelburne Farms
cheddar, don’t have protected designation of origin status, Vermont has a very strong brand identity that we
defend rigorously,” says Tom Perry, cheese sales manager for Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vt. “It is associated with quality and with traditional, artisan produc-
Hire for Passion
“Knowledgeable and passionate cheesemongers can sell a lot of cheese,” says Laura Downey
of Fairfield Cheese, who believes the best way to promote cheese is with the help of an
enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff.
“Training is very important, though without a passion for cheese or good food it is hard to be
a great cheesemonger,” she says. “Our best cheesemongers share an obsession for great food
and cheese, and they all love to cook their own food.”
Fairfield Cheese trains its staff for customer service first and then techniques such as the
proper way to care for cheese, and how to wrap and cut it.
“We teach them how to ask the right questions to help a customer get a cheese they will
love,” Downey says. “We also provide opportunities to visit producers and go to in-depth
classes, and we often have producers or importers come in and do staff training with us.”
Specialty & Gourmet Specialty Business
A bounty of