The holiday season is a busy time for the Wisconsin dairy industry. According to data collected by Information Resources, Inc.'s (IRI) custom database for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), cheese companies and retailers continuously see an increase in sales of Wisconsin cheese and dairy products each December.
In the 2014 season, cheese sales jumped 21 percent in the week before Thanksgiving and 34 percent in the week before Christmas. Sales were also up 50 percent or more for many cheese varieties, including asiago, Alpine-style cheese, brick, brie, butterkase, camembert, cold pack, cream cheese, edam, fontina, mascarpone and ricotta.
In addition, Wisconsin cheese isn’t the only dairy product expected to see a bump in sales during the holiday season. The popularity of baking and entertaining during December helped fuel higher sales of eggnog, buttermilk, flavored milk, yogurt and butter in 2014. An increase is expected this year as well.
“We expect this year to be no different with many cheese companies poised to capitalize on the holiday season with unique product offerings and increased sales and marketing efforts,” says James Robson CEO of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Introductions of limited edition cheese varieties exclusively for the holiday season remain popular for 2015. Most notably, the highly anticipated Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, returns after a one-year hiatus. This exclusive cheese is hand crafted from seasonal raw cow’s milk and aged for 60 days. It retails for approximately $30 per round and is expected to sell out by Christmas.
Sales of flavored cheese varieties are also on the rise and many Wisconsin cheesemakers have released cheeses perfect for holiday entertaining and gift giving. Consumers can find unique flavors like Peppermint BellaVitano from Sartori in Plymouth, Wisconsin; Marieke Truffle Gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese in Thorp, Wisconsin; Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar from Carr Valley Cheese Company in La Valle, Wisconsin; and Cinnamon Apple Pie Heritage Cheddar made by Henning’s in Kiel, Wisconsin.
For those looking for unique gift ideas, many retailers offer a variety of holiday gift baskets that can be easily ordered online or by phone. A list of cheese companies, creameries and specialty stores offering mail order cheese and gift baskets can be found at www.EatWisconsinCheese.com/MailOrder. WMMB also offers customizable holiday-themed Wisconsin cheese promotions to aid retailers in their marketing efforts during this busy time of year.