Artisan Cheesemaker's Whey of the Future
In a surprisingly competitive world of artisanal cheesemaking, one Wisconsin producer has a taste for helping others.
For the first decade after Bob Wills and his wife, Beth Nachreiner, purchased her family's Plain, Wis.-based Cedar Grove Cheese in 1989, "the whole Wisconsin dairy industry seemed to be going out of business," Wills recalls. Determined to keep the 133-year-old company alive, Wills shifted Cedar Grove's focus to organic, natural, grass-based cheeses as well as artisanal cheeses made from cow, goat, water buffalo and sheep's milk. A key ingredient: teaming up with other small-scale cheesemakers and dairy farmers.
Wills began working with grass-based organic and Kosher farmers to create distinctive varieties for his own and private-label sales. Because of the competitive nature of commodity cheese pricing, adding limited-batch specialty cheese production helped the company grow, and pumped up the revenue for the dairy farmers who supplied his raw materials.
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