With 27 percent of the nation’s total cheese production, Wisconsin maintained its ranking as the nation’s top cheese producing state in 2017. At 799 million pounds, specialty cheese accounted for 24 percent of Wisconsin’s total cheese production. This was an increase of 24.2 million pounds more than 2016.
Of the state’s 132 cheese plants, 99 manufactured at least one type of specialty cheese during 2017. Blue, feta, havarti, Hispanic types, specialty mozzarella, and Parmesan wheel remain the most popular varieties.
Gouda cheese production rose 44 percent above the previous year.
Wisconsin cheese makers are known for offering a wide variety of high quality specialty cheeses. A specialty cheese is a value-added product which commands a premium price. According to the Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute, the nature of specialty cheese is derived from one or more unique qualities, such as exotic origin, particular processing or design, limited supply, unusual application or use, and extraordinary packaging or channel of sale. The common denominator is its very high quality.