Our industry's ability to shift strategies amidst the pandemic continues to amaze the team here at Deli Market News. The American Cheese Society's (ACS) most recent announcement is one example of this, as the association will be shifting its 38th Annual Conference to a virtual format. Originally to be hosted in Des Moines, Iowa, ACS will now host a virtual educational and networking event to be held on July 28–30, 2021. Surrounding the theme of "Moving Forward Together with Purpose," the event will provide online interactive opportunities to foster community, help members successfully navigate the changing industry, and celebrate accomplishments in artisan cheesemaking.
"Our top priority is the health and safety of our community," said Jeremy Stephenson, Board President. "A virtual conference will help protect our members while providing us with a unique opportunity to connect cheese industry professionals not just in North America, but from across the globe, to lend fresh perspective and insight to our conference programming."
In addition to year-long listening sessions and fireside chats, data from a May 2020 ACS survey of 980 artisan cheese community members has been used to shape the virtual conference programming. The survey revealed that 71 percent of survey takers sought debt relief or financial assistance to stay afloat, and nearly a third laid off or furloughed employees. There were also indications that members were taking advantage of opportunities to pause and improve business models, as well as explore new methods to package and distribute their products directly to consumers.
To continue to offer practical strategies, engagement, and value to ACS members, sponsors, and constituents of the industry, 30 educational sessions will take place throughout the three-day conference, including:
"It's time to come together!" said Lynn Giacomini Stray, Board Vice President. "This virtual gathering provides an opportunity for all of us—even those who may not have been able to travel and attend past conferences in person—to gather as a cheese community to learn and share and reconnect with one another."
The virtual conference will host artisan cheesemakers, industry professionals, purchasers, and influencers from the United States, Canada, and Europe, according to a press release. To help protect the health and safety of cheese professionals, the Annual Judging and Competition has been postponed to a later date and will be supplemented with alternative programming. The Certified Cheese Professional Exam (ACS CCP) will continue to be a key element of the conference.
For more on this event, click here. Whether you are a buyer or supplier, be sure to check out this exciting opportunity as you continue to build your business.