Wisconsin’s Specialty Cheese Output Fell 3% In 2020
Wisconsin’s specialty cheese production in 2020 totaled 796.2 million pounds, down 2.5 percent, or 20.8 million pounds, from 2019, according to statistics released this week by the Wisconsin Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That’s the lowest level for Wisconsin’s specialty cheese production since 2016, when it totaled 774.4 million pounds. Production had reached a record high of 816.9 million pounds in 2019. In 2020, specialty cheese accounted for 23.5 percent of Wisconsin’s total cheese production of 3.39 billion pounds. By comparison, in 2019, specialty cheese accounted for 24.3 percent of the state’s total cheese output of 3.36 billion pounds. Of the 120 plants manufacturing cheese in Wisconsin in 2020, 91 produced at least one type of specialty cheese. That’s down from 2019, when 96 of the state’s 127 cheese plants produced at least one type of specialty cheese.
Wisconsin’s specialty cheese production statistics date back to 1993, when the state’s specialty cheese output totaled 83.1 million pounds and accounted for just 4.1 percent of the state’s total cheese production of 2.03 billion pounds. In 1993, 43 of Wisconsin’s 158 cheese plants produced at least one type of specialty cheese.
For this data series, a specialty cheese is defined as a value-added product which commands a premium price. According to the Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute (WSCI), 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.
Wisconsin’s 2020 specialty cheese production by variety, with comparisons to 2019, was as follows:
Feta: 92.1 million pounds, down 8.8 percent. There were nine plants producing Feta in Wisconsin in 2020, one fewer than in 2019.
Hispanic Cheese: 105.1 million pounds, up 8.5 percent. There were 19 plants producing Hispanic cheese in the state last year, three more than in 2019.
Parmesan Wheel: 77.6 million pounds, up 3.9 percent. There were six plants producing Parmesan wheels in Wisconsin in 2020, unchanged from 2019.
Havarti: 42.3 million pounds, down 2 percent. There were 13 plants producing Harvarti last year, one more than in 2019.
Asiago: 30.9 million pounds, down 6.4 percent. There were 13 plants producing Asiago in the state in 2020, unchanged from 2019.
Blue cheese: 46.3 million pounds (no statistics are available for 2019). There were eight plants producing Blue cheese in Wisconsin last year.
Gorgonzola: 13.9 million pounds, down 15.9 percent. There were seven plants producing Gorgonzola in the state in 2020, one fewer than in 2019.
Cheddar (specialty types only): 36.3 million pounds, up 20.3 percent. There were 40 plants producing specialty Cheddar in Wisconsin last year, four fewer than in 2020.
Farmers Cheese: 1.1 million pounds, up 0.8 percent. There were 13 plants producing Farmers cheese in the state in 2020, two more than in 2019.
Gouda: 13.8 million pounds, down 5.3 percent. There were 32 plants producing Gouda in Wisconsin last year, four more than in 2019.
Italian Fontina: 9.8 million pounds, down 2.5 percent. There were 11 plants producing Italian Fontina in the state in 2020, unchanged from 2019.
Limburger: 369,000 pounds, up 1.1 percent. There was one plant producing Limburger in Wisconsin last year, unchanged from 2019.
Monterey Jack (specialty types only): 17.1 million pounds, up 30.6 percent. There were 16 plants producing specialty Monterey Jack in the state in 2020, unchanged from 2019.
Romano Wheel: 10.0 million pounds, up 2.8 percent. There were seven plants producing Romano wheels in Wisconsin last year, one more than in 2019.
Swiss (specialty types only): 3.8 million pounds, down 5.6 percent. There were eight plants producing specialty Swiss in the state in 2020, two more than in 2019.
All other types of specialty cheese: 295.6 million pounds, down 19.8 percent. There were 42 plants producing allother types of specialty cheese last year, eight fewer than in 2019.
Specialty cheese varieties included in the “all other” category include Alpine, American Grana, Auribella, Bel Paese, Brie and Camembert, Butterkase, specialty Colby, Edam, Fior di Latte, Fontinella, Gruyere, other specialty Italian, Italico, Juustoleipa, Kasseri, Mascarpone, Middle Eastern cheeses, specialty Mozzarella, other specialty Parmesan, Pepato, Peperon, specialty Provolone, other specialty Romano, soft-ripened, Tvarog, Polish, and Yogurt cheese..
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Source: Cheese Reporter