The quiet giant behind Jarlsberg®, Lotito Foods, and more, as well as partner brands like Westland’s Old Amsterdam Gouda cheese, Garcia Baquero Spanish, and Hudson Valley Creamery fresh goat cheese welcomed a new President and Chief Executive Officer, Carl Gerlach, earlier this year.
“I love the food business, consumers, and brands. This is an incredible organization that brings all that together,” Carl tells me with enthusiasm for his new team and role at Norseland. He says that attitude is a reflection of the crew itself. “The team energy and love of what we do is infectious!”
Carl brings to this new seat a versatile career, bringing not only extensive experience in food with a long-time emphasis in dairy, but several senior roles leading businesses at Kraft Foods, Sara Lee, Unilever, and, most recently, Maple Hill Creamery.
“I enjoy faster-paced businesses looking to be disruptive. Businesses that are really strong while also carrying a desire to be something more—in growth and in connection with consumers. Certainly, in Norseland, we have great brands, but there is still that desire to be better,” Carl says.
As we discuss the success Norseland has already achieved in Jarlsberg® popularity and notoriety, Carl says the key is recognizing Norseland’s accomplishments and how to continue this in a changing environment.
“Providing high-quality, great-tasting products consumers want is the bedrock of our brand. So, how do we continue that? By bringing new consumers to the brand of Jarlsberg®, particularly millennials. It’s not about changing what we are doing, but instead emphasizing the positives we have and helping these new generations get to know and try us,” Carl reflects.
While many new options have emerged specifically in the specialty cheese segment, Carl shares how the challenge of choice has actually reinforced Norseland’s established brands.
“Consumers want the brand best for their family; authentic, real, and made well with love, and that is Jarlsberg®,” he comments. “It absolutely fits with what consumers are looking for, so it’s important to tell our story. To share what has been built over 50 years in the U.S. and over a century since our origin. Being the top-selling brand of specialty cheese in the U.S. speaks for itself: Consumers go back to what they like most, and so even with so many choices, we have found loyalty and familiarity continue to outperform.”
At the same time, that established trust allows Norseland to introduce new options with the backing of the faith built within its fan base.
“Specialty tends to call for a premium price, and consumers don’t want to risk spending on something they’re unfamiliar with. They buy on preconceived constructs, and we have benefited from that as a brand, as well as being able to utilize that for our partner brands,” Carl explains. “Those partners are in a unique position to bring relevant brands the market needs with the trust Jarlsberg® has built over decades.”
With all this in mind, what could possibly be next? That new customer, Carl shares.
“I think what you will see from us is a more consumer-forward, product-forward approach. Talking to consumers in a more direct way and helping to create more in-store engagement with retail partners,” he says.
With the International Deli Dairy Bakery Association’s annual trade show just around the corner, you can see for yourself both the trusted brands and committed team of Norseland. Carl will be doing a meet-and-greet event at booth #2791 Monday, June 5, from 4 to 5 p.m. Be sure to swing by while in Anaheim, California, June 4–6. I certainly shall!