USDA: Wisconsin specialty cheese production up 10 percent

Contact: Audra Hubbell


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Madison WI, May 6, 2011 – With 25 percent of the nation’s production, Wisconsin maintained its ranking as the nation’s top cheese producing state in 2010. At 552 million pounds, specialty cheese accounted for 21 percent of Wisconsin’s total cheese production. This was an increase of 48 million pounds over 2009.

Of the state’s 129 cheese plants, 90 manufactured at least one type of specialty cheese during 2010, down 2 plants from a year ago. Blue, Feta, Hispanic types, specialty Mozzarella varieties, Parmesan Wheel, and specialty Provolone cheeses were the state’s most widely produced specialty cheeses. The largest increases from 2009 to 2010 were in specialty Cheddars and Provolones, up 22 and 24 percent, respectively.

Wisconsin cheese makers are known for offering a wide variety of high quality specialty cheeses. A specialty cheese is a value-added product which commands a premium price. According to the Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute, the nature of specialty cheese is derived from one or more unique qualities, such as exotic origin, particular processing or design, limited supply, unusual application or use, and extraordinary packaging or channel of sale. The common denominator is its very high quality.