Cheese And Holiday Celebrations
Holiday celebrations — whether they be large events, intimate gatherings or long-distance connections — call for decadent food displays, and cheese can be a centerpiece for entertaining.
“The versatility of cheese makes it the perfect entertaining partner, and there’s a style and variety for every taste,” says Jennifer Giambroni, vice president of communications for the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB). “Triple cremes are perfect for layering or adding festive cutouts with jam or savory tapenades; hard cheeses can be cut into a variety of shapes and sizes to add interest to a board or individual box. We’ve seen some creative ideas for creating individually portioned cheese boards for events, which serves the desire to entertain but away from shared/buffet-style displays.”
For this year’s holiday season, Giambroni says CMAB anticipates consumers will proceed with caution — celebrating but on a smaller scale, with more focus on the little touches that make holidays so special. She notes cheese and dairy fit into this nicely.
“We’re leaning heavily on ideas for downsized entertaining occasions with a consumer PR campaign outlining on-trend ideas for using cheeses ‘beyond the board’ in edible displays that serve both as the decoration on the table as well as the evening appetizer and inspiration for a cookie exchange board that can serve as both a party theme and a dessert grazing table of sorts,” she says.
The cheese board, a traditional staple for entertaining, is the centerpiece of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin’s
(DFW) holiday campaign this year. Last week DFW launched the Wisconsin Cheese Board Awards, a six-week competition that invites aspiring cheese board aficionados to submit photos of their unique Wisconsin cheese board creations. The champion will win a year’s supply of cheese for themselves and a friend, plus a cheese donation provided by Winona Foods to the food pantry of their choice.
“We know people will be gathering again this year, and they’re looking for that show-stopping piece that they can share stories over with friends — and that is the cheese boards,” says Michelle Trowbridge, director of retail channel marketing, DFW. “We’re seeing people put new and festive twists on the classic cheese board with the ones they love, which is a huge part of the decision to center our entire holiday campaign around cheese boards. For those who are still looking for ways to safety gather in smaller groups, we anticipate individual cheese boards and the charcuterie trend to continue into the new year.”
In addition to providing tasty displays for in-person gatherings, online availability of cheese boards, baskets and kits have become popular not only as gifts, but also for virtual events and celebrations with more employees working from home.
With more consumers turning to online shopping, DFW has brought back its holiday gift basket program that offers cheese companies the opportunity to have their favorite gift basket featured in the WisconsinCheese.com directory. DFW in turn supports cheese companies with photography, paid advertising, social media assets and marketing support, in addition to ongoing media pitches and communication with the national food and lifestyle contributors.
In Los Angeles, CMAB has introduced its Real California Milk virtual cheese storefront: The Station Cheese Stop, hosted by Reef. This shop features 30 varieties of California cheese available for order and delivery within an hour through services like Door Dash and Uber Eats within specific zip codes.
To help support California artisan cheese and other products, Board at Home — a cheeseboard delivery service that started in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic to help producers battle a dramatic decline in sales — recently launched new collections for the holidays. These include Mixology & Cheese, Board at Home’s first mixology kit; Blue Ribbon Box, a kit with award-winning California cheeses from the most recent American Cheese Society competition; and the Rookies of the Year kit, which contains unique small-batch releases that would be difficult to find outside of local California farmers’ markets.
Board at Home partners and co-founders Ben Pavlovic, Nicole Pavlovic, and Raymond Rumiano have grown Board at Home from a local delivery initiative in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles markets to a service providing California products from more than 45 artisanal vendors to customers nationwide, including thousands of group corporate orders to companies like Google, Microsoft, Pfizer, McKinsey, The Gates Foundation and many more.
“The remote workforce is here to stay to some extent, so corporate group orders and events won’t be going away,” Ben Pavlovic says. “As for the general consumer, we are beginning to see customers order our kits for in-person family gatherings and celebrations. We’re also seeing demand for live, in-person events.”
For California cheesemakers and retailers, Giambroni notes that CMAB provides a number of useful ideas, tip sheets, and brochures that can accompany cheese boxes and boards.
“Ideas and inspiration are key — consumers like to try their hand at the latest trends but don’t want to spend all day doing it,” she says. “Pre-sliced and cubed cheeses; creative pre-made cheese boards with suggested beverage pairings; virtual events with a retail cheese expert or cheesemaker; and the very best cheese boxes and boards as holiday gifts.”
Trowbridge says DFW’s paid media campaign is driving online customers to its website and providing lots of resources for consumers on how to build a cheesy holiday menu or award-winning cheese board to cheese purchasing and prepping tips.
“Because gatherings will be a big part of this holiday season, we are also seeing shoppers elevating their existing cheese selections by trying new varieties and seasonal flavors and spending a little more on specialty cheese,” she says. “It’s all about the experience and giving their friends and family the best experience they can during the holidays.”
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Source: Cheese Market News