NEW ORLEANS —Snacking cheeses, cheeses with stories behind them and cheeses used in new and interesting ways in deli prepared foods were among the many highlights of IDDBA ‘18’s cheese offerings.

At the end of May, Fitchburg, Wisconsin-based Emmi Roth USA Inc. began selling its individually wrapped .75 oz snack cheese rounds, which are marketed in grab ‘n go boxes and in 6- and 10-count bags with peggable carrying handles , says Abby Despins, the company’s senior public relations and digital marketing manager. While other premium cheese producers have introduced snack cheeses, this is the  first in this format, she says.

“They’re great for back-to-school,” Despins says. Emmi Roth will build momentum for the new cheese through digital campaigns with retailers in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; and Sacramento, California, this summer, she says. Hy-Vee and Whole Foods are among the retailers that have picked up the product, which comes in creamy cheddar, creamy whole milk mozzarella and creamy gouda.

“They’ve been really well-received,” Despins says. “We launched the website June 1 and so far we’ve had great feedback. A lot of people on Facebook are asking where they can find it.”

Emmi Roth’s new snack cheeses should be available nationwide by the end of August, Despins says.

Another entry in the cheese snack department on display at IDDBA was Sonoma, California-based Sonoma Creamery’s Cheese Crisp Bars, which come in five flavors: Everything Cheddar, Bacon Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Parmesan and Savory Seed.

The company created the product because the savory snack bar category was underserved, says Mitch Stark, Sonoma Creamery’s vice president of sales. Crisp Bars come two to a pack and include other ingredients like organic brown rice, organic oat bran, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, quinoa, onions and garlic powder.

Emmi Roth also used IDDBA to promote the latest addition to its Kaltbach line of cave-aged cheeses. Le Cremeux joins two other cheeses in the line, Le Gruyere AOP and Emmentaler AOP, Despins says. The cheeses come from the Kaltbach Cave in the Santenberg Hilltops region of Switzerland, which produces cheeses with a smooth, creamy texture and distinctive black rinds — they’re the only cheeses, in fact, that have black rinds, Despins says.

Le Cremeux is aged for just four or five months, compared to 12 months for the other two Kaltbach varieties, Despins says. The result is a semi-soft cheese  with a custard-like consistency and notes of caramelized butter and chicken stock.

Experimenting, telling stories

IDDBA ’18 found one leading specialty cheese shipper, Green Bay, Wisconsin-based BelGioioso Cheese Inc., branching out in a non-cheese direction. The company introduced its Gianni Piadina line of piadina, a traditional flatbread from Italy’s Emilia-Romaga region.

The line is named for BelGioioso’s Gianni Succi, a native of the region, who prepared piadina with BelGioioso’s Crescenza-Stracchino cheese at the company’s IDDBA booth. BelGioioso is pitching the piadina-and-cheese combination for instore prepared foods applications, with product being made in departments, says Jamie Wichlacz, BelGioioso’s marketing manager.  

Arugula and prosciutto are among the more popular ingredients to pair with Crescenza-Stracchino, but almost any other meats and vegetables can be substituted, Succi says. BelGioioso’s piadina comes in three varieties: Piadina Classica, Piadina Spessa Thick and Piadina with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Saputo Cheese USA Inc. showcased its new Black Creek cheeses at IDDBA ’18.

The all-cheddar line is targeted at male consumers, says Melinda Whitehouse, Saputo marketing coordinator. Packaging features a drawing of a Wisconsin farmstead, a wooden board background and the tag line “Wisconsin Classic” and bears the “Master’s Mark Wisconsin” mark of the Master Cheesemakers program, the only certification program of its kind outside of Europe.  

The line features 7 oz blocks packed under the company’s Artisan Series banner and available in five flavors: Extra Sharp Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Double Smoked Cheddar, Cheddar with Parmesan Notes and Cheddar with Gruyere Notes. Other Black Creek products include Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sticks and Sharp White Cheddar Cheese Snacks packs and Sharp Cheddar Cold Pack Cheese Spread.

A new product line that draws on a unique bit of storytelling was a highlight of Savencia Cheese USA LLC’s IDDBA ’18 offering. Mahwah, New Jersey-based Savencia launched its Dorothy’s brand in late 2017 through a pilot with Chicago retailer Mariano’s, says Sebastien Lehembre, Savencia senior brand manager. The line has since been picked up by Wegmans, The Fresh Market, Publix and other top retailers and will be in 1,500 stores by the end of the year, Lehembre says.

Dorothy’s is named for Dorothy (Demeter) Kolb, who as a girl in the 1930s fell in love with the cows in her grandfather’s Illinois creamery. Later, at Iowa State University, she became the first woman to earn a degree in dairy science. That was followed by a career making cheese with her husband.

One of Kolb’s sons and one of her nephews work for Savencia today, Lehembre says. “This is not BS marketing,” he says. “This is a real story about real people.” Dorothy’s brand cheeses come in two varieties: Comeback Cow, a brie; and Keep Dreaming, a cream. Both 7 oz cheeses come in the shape of a flower and feature packaging with vintage graphics and lettering.

Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania-based Delallo showcased its new line of imported Granino cheese, which is marketed in blocks and grated in containers and bags. 

The Italian variety is sweeter than traditional Grana Padano cheeses, says Delallo’s Anthony DiPetro. Grana Padano,  a hard, slow-ripened, semi-fat cheese, similar to Pamigiano Reggiano, is made from cows’ milk produced in Italy’s Po River valley.

IDDBA ’18 also showcased a plethora of dips from dairy producers in California, Wisconsin and other states. One such product is a line of dips Chino, California-based Scott Bros. Dairy created through a partnership with Tapatio, a Vernon, California-based hot sauce specialist.

The dips were introduced at retail this year, with rollout moving eastward from California, says the company’s Jonathan Wilder. “There’s much more need for savory  flavors, and these have a little more ethnic flare,” he says. “They can also be spread on sandwiches and used in other ways.” Dips retail for a suggested $4.99, Wilder says.