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As the holiday season gets fully underway, Wisconsin cheese makers and their retailer partners are gearing up for an uptick in gift-related sales.
In the 2014 season, cheese sales jumped 21 percent in the week before Thanksgiving and 34 percent in the week before Christmas, with sales 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.
“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,” said James Robson, CEO of the Madison-based 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 Co. in Dodgeville, Wis., 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, according to the board.
Sales of flavored cheese varieties are also on the rise, and many Wisconsin cheesemakers have released cheeses that are ideal for holiday entertaining and gift-giving. Unique flavors include Peppermint BellaVitano from Sartori in Plymouth, Wis.; Marieke Truffle Gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese in Thorp; Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar from Carr Valley Cheese Company in La Valle; and Cinnamon Apple Pie Heritage Cheddar made by Henning’s in Kiel.
In anticipation of improved sales, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is also offering customizable holiday-themed Wisconsin cheese promotions to aid retailers in their marketing efforts during this busy time of year.