Winter Fancy Food Show is almost upon us, and with it, the opportunity to celebrate those companies growing the profile of specialty food; bringing innovative offerings, brands, and ideas to market; and growing the $140 billion category. One such company is Schuman Cheese, who since celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2015 has been on a tear, introducing its new Yellow Door Creamery line and expanding its flagship Cello brand with new looks, new products, and new flavors.
I recently spoke to Jim Low, Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing, about the company’s plans for Winter Fancy Food Show, its flagship brand, snacking offerings, and more.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the Cello brand: When and how did the brand come about? What's the ethos behind the brand?
Jim Low: The Cello brand is all about discovery. We know there are so many people out there looking for something new in specialty cheese, and our cheeses give them a distinctive take on traditional cheese making. When we say that Cello is “tuned to perfection” we mean that we’re literally fine-tuning every variable necessary to make really extraordinary cheese. We bring together the unique terroir surrounding our Lake Country Dairy creamery and the craftsmanship of our dedicated cheesemakers to create flavors that stand apart from other takes on Italian cheeses. That’s why we use copper vats for our flagship Copper Kettle cheese and why we’re passionate about the flavor profiles in our Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, and Fontal varieties.
Our goal with Cello is to deliver high-quality cheese every day, but to do it in a way that feeds our fans’ hunger for new ways to love cheese.
Q: Who is the Cello consumer? How is the brand working to appeal to consumers that are both traditional specialty cheese shoppers and introducing artisan specialty cheeses to a broader audience?
JL: Part of our mission with Cello is to introduce the joy of high-quality cheese to more people—to make it approachable and accessible for cheese experts and the average shopper alike. True to our name, we’ll use music—the universal language—and musical cues to encourage people to give the specialty cheese case a new look. When they see our new products, like Copper Kettle Chisels, and our ergonomic cup packaging, we think they’ll be intrigued to explore, much like the curiosity that drives music fans to hit play on a hot new track.
Q: I know the company undertook a comprehensive rebrand a couple years ago, introduced the Yellow Door Creamery brand, expanded into the shelf-stable snacking category with Cello Whisps; what can you tell me about the progress of all these projects over the last two years?
JL: Our innovation projects and the exciting products that they’re enabling are really points of pride for Schuman Cheese. Whisps, which are made using Cello cheese, are the No. 1 cheese snack in country, far out-turning our closest competition. Last year, Yellow Door Creamery introduced an award-winning line of Alpine cheeses that earned back-to-back Grand Master recognition at the Wisconsin State Fair. Our mission is to enhance everyday eating experiences with the highest quality cheese, and from the Cello brand to the successes we’re seeing with our other lines, we’re proving that we’ve got the products to do just that.
Q: Tell me about some of the accolades that Schuman Cheese has picked up this year for its Cello-brand products: what does it mean to the company to be acknowledged with an so many awards, for example, for "Best in Class" for Cello Asiago?
JL: Our cheeses earned 27 awards in 2018; in fact, every one of our core Cello items earned a medal in 2018. Winning these awards is a terrific validation that our Cello products really are “tuned to perfection!” We were especially proud to see the organic variety of our Copper Kettle cheese, which won first place at the American Cheese Society Competition in 2017, continue to capture attention with a medal at the World Championship Cheese contest in 2018. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that our Lake Country Dairy team won the 2018 “Cheese Plant of the Year” award, which I think sums up what having over 600 years of experience can deliver.
Want to learn more straight from the cheesemakers’ mouths? Visit SchumanCheese at booth #2331 at the Winter Fancy Food Show, January 13-15, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.