According to numbers from the USDA — via a news release from the Dairy Business Innovation Center — production of specialty cheese in Wisconsin rose by 7 percent from 2007 to 2008 and now accounts for 17 percent of the state’s total cheese production. In terms of weight, that’s a jump from 399 million pounds of specialty cheese to 428 million pounds.
Some more news on Wisconsin specialty cheese, by the numbers:
- Of the state’s 127 cheese plants, 88 are now manufacturing at least one type of specialty cheese, up four plants from 2007.
- In 2008, six new specialty dairy plants opened in Wisconsin, with another 14 conducting major expansions.
- Limburger production dropped from 744,000 pounds in 2007 to 645,000 pounds in 2008. This is a shame, as it’s actually quite good with raw onions and rye bread.
- Feta continues to be the state’s most-produced specialty cheese, with a 3 percent bump in production.
- Ten years ago, only six farmstead dairies called Wisconsin home; today 23 farmstead operations craft artisan and specialty cheeses from cow, goat, and sheep’s milk, plus farmstead yogurt and ice cream.