ELLSWORTH – Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, headquartered in northwest Wisconsin, has been acclaimed for cheese curds for decades. About 50 percent of its assembly is committed to curds. Each year they accomplice with accession Wisconsin-based company, Kwik Trip accessibility stores, to put Ellsworth curds into the easily of alike added consumers.
Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery handles 2.2 actor pounds of milk per day from 285 farmer-members. They currently accept three processing plants and will accept a fourth abreast Menomonie aback architecture on that ability is completed.
The co-op’s Comstock bulb is committed to bearing specialty cheeses, including flavored Cheddar, Jack, Muenster and added cheeses. The co-op’s acclaimed curds appear in the archetypal white Cheddar flavor, but additionally altered flavors like garlic, Cajun or ranch-flavored.
This summer, that advance amid the Ellsworth Address and Kwik Trip resulted in the auction of an added 15 semi-loads of Ellsworth curds.
But the address isn’t annoyed with that – they are aiming for the auction of alike added curds. And these are activity all over the world. Paul Bauer, CEO and accepted administrator of Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, explained that their new “Cheddar Acerbate Crunchers” are fabricated by freeze-drying their admired curds, authoritative them a brittle bite that requires no refrigeration.
The address had experimented several years ago with creating a shelf-stable cheese acerbate that could survive after refrigeration. Those beforehand efforts came in accessible aback their Chinese agent asked them about advancing up with a artefact that needs no refrigeration.
Kari Skibbie, the co-op’s Senior Director of Sales and Marketing, said that in this country we are baby by constant admission to algidity for our foods. An estimated 2 billion bodies beyond the apple do not accept reliable algidity – either because they don’t accept admission to electricity or that admission is anemic and unreliable.
Fred Zhang, the agent who works with the Ellsworth Address to advertise cheese in China, was attractive for a artefact that he could accompany to China that would crave no refrigeration. Though the furnishings of the coronavirus communicable slowed bottomward the process, Bauer said the aboriginal bartering auction of the “Crunchers” was fabricated several weeks ago aback a accession was beatific off to China.
The address strives for a 12-month shelf activity on the freeze-dried curds and guarantees them for six months, Bauer said. But he has had some of those beforehand beginning curds in the amalgamation for years and they are as acceptable as new. In fact, it was some of that beforehand artefact that he acclimated as a ancestor for the new “Crunchers” and to show the artefact to Zhang.
The shutdowns brought on by the communicable accept slowed the development of the artefact and the rollout to new markets. “Dairy barter has been so disrupted,” says Bauer. “Lining up trucking and aircraft is a challenge.” There has been a lag time in accepting the beginning curds to the Illinois ability that freeze-dries them and again accepting them back.
Another aggravation compared to their accepted rollout of a artefact is the actuality that because of communicable apropos there haven’t been any barter shows – no opportunities to get the new artefact out to a added audience. “It will be nice aback barter shows are back,” Skibbie said.
Despite the challenges, they accept been affairs the crunchers for six months and accept racked up sales of 10,000 packages. They awash out of the artefact afresh at Apple Dairy Expo and beatific the new artefact to a Dairy Exchange affair at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Barter and Consumer Protection, breadth they were handed out to dairy industry leaders.
In adjustment to get about some of the aircraft disruptions that are now common, Skibbie adds that the address has been sending artefact to China via air. Their absolute agent – who represents whey and cheese articles for them in the consign breadth — has been ashore in China for three years. They acclaim him with ambience up an “Ellsworth store” in China to advertise their products.
“Fred (Zhang) has a abundant accord with Wisconsin and with the U.S. Dairy Consign Council. It’s so adamantine to accretion assurance with bodies across and in China it’s a apathetic process. They booty the continued view,” said Bauer.
The address had congenital a able accord with Zhang and was on clue to affairs a alembic of dairy articles per ages to China several years ago. Then the barter and assessment war beneath the Trump administering shut bottomward a lot of that. “It’s been aught for three years, except for some air shipments,” Bauer said.
He’s blessed to see this new artefact headed out. “It’s an consign befalling to administer curds to new markets,” Bauer added. “We appetite to see steady, incremental growth. Long appellation we see abundant abeyant opportunity.”
As they acquaint consumers to the product, the brittle curds accept been fabricated alone in the Cheddar flavor, but Skibbie said they will aggrandize the artefact band with assorted flavors as they agreement and analysis them. “Because they are freeze-dried, there are altered opportunities for flavors. Some flavors that may abort on a beginning acerbate may assignment on the crunchers. We additionally accept to accomplish abiding that the accession of assertive additive capacity doesn’t affect the shelf activity of the product,” she said.
They accept additionally been experimenting with the crunchers in aliment service. “One guy fabricated amber dent accolade with crunchers in it. It tasted article like macadamia basics in the cookie,” she said.
As they abide to acquaint new consumers to the product, Skibbie said bodies don’t apperceive absolutely what it is except to acquisition that it is buttery and crunchy. “We are aggravating altered markets and educating consumers.”
For added information, appointment their website www.ellsworthcheese.com.
One of the boxy genitalia of her job, she says facetiously, is to analysis the shelf activity of the “Cruncher” curds. Some are 18 months and others are alike bristles years old, after accident of arrangement or taste.
Bauer addendum that the address has been affairs the brittle curds at the co-op’s Ellsworth and Comstock retail aliment and online for the aftermost six months. “It’s so abundant easier to UPS broiled cheese curds than beginning ones,” Bauer said with a laugh.
The candy attending like approved cheese curds but are brittle instead of squeaky. They are actuality marketed as a advantageous advantage for snacking – fabricated from 100% accustomed cheese which are aerial in protein, aerial in calcium and accommodate no added sugars and aught auto fats. Skibbie addendum that they are keto-friendly and gluten chargeless for those consumers who are anxious about those nutrients.
The business plan includes accepting the crunchers placed with added retailers soon. The 2.11-ounce (60 gram) bales retail online and in aliment for $4.59. They appear in a resealable amalgamation emblazoned with the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery logo and the words “natural” and “high protein.”
Bauer said that European dairy marketers are already affairs freeze-dried cheese curds with basics and broiled berries. That’s a artefact that wouldn’t canyon aggregation with U.S. aliment inspectors, he said, but appears to be accepted in the Chinese market.
Construction on the co-op’s new ability – which Bauer calls a “small, specialty cheese plant” — a mile from the Interstate abreast Menomonie, started in October 2020 but has been slowed by accumulation alternation issues and activity shortages. “On the architecture ancillary we accept food but not workers, and on the processing ancillary we accept workers but not materials. Stainless steel, brim and electrical items are in abbreviate supply,” Bauer said.
In adjustment to get accessible for the architecture project, the address has been affairs acclimated silos and processing accessories for two years.
How To Make Cheese Curds – How To Make Cheese Curds
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