U.S. Cheese Championship winners see boost in sales

U.S. Cheese Championship winners see boost in sales

Wisconsin cheesemakers dominated this year’s U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. Fourteen of the 20 entries for the final round are from Wisconsin .

Wisconsin cheesemakers took home 58 first place medals out of 101 categories and placed in the top three spots for 26 of the categories, according to results posted from the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

The Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics were one of those winners. Their bread and butter is their award winning fresh mozzarella cheese and jalapeno cheese curds, both took first place in this year’s competition in their respected categories.

“It’s the flavor, it’s something different for people,” said George Crave, who manages the Cheese Factory.

As a family run farm, Crave said the recognition from awards like the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest helps with exposure.

“It really helps gives us recognition in the marketplace and publications. People are looking for that,” he said.

The Crave Brothers ship nationwide and are in grocery stores and restaurants. The awards aren’t just for show, they are driving sales according to judges.

“If they walk out of here with gold, their phone is ringing off the hook the next day and the demand for their product skyrockets,” said Jim Mueller.

Wisconsin produces over 3 billion pounds of cheese annually, 1.3 billion of which is mozzarella. The demand for the cheese has increased over 200 percent since they started production in 2002, according to Crave.

“It used to be just a summer cheese when you have the tomato and the olive oil and the fresh cracked pepper and when the tomato season ended, fresh mozzarella season ended. Now it’s all year round,” Crave said.

Wisconsin has won the championship title 13 times out of the last 18 competitions.