Aussie cheese addiction

'It's like crack': US can't get enough of Aussie cheese


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Export boom: Julie and Sandy Cameron, owners of MeredithDairy, exports about 10 per cent of its product internationally including selling to China, Singapore and the United States.
Photo by Jason South

Export boom: Julie and Sandy Cameron, owners of MeredithDairy, exports about 10 per cent of its product internationally including selling to China, Singapore and the United States. Photo by Jason South

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Cheesemonger Anthony Femia says consumers in the United States can't get enough of Australian style marinated cheese.

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Once store owners in the United States try a jar of Gerard and Susan Tuck's Chevoo cheese they want to stock it.

"We have a phenomenal hit rate when people taste the product – I would say it would be over 90 per cent of stores,” Gerard Tuck said. 

Tuck ran cheese distribution company Calendar Cheese Company in Australia before heading to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to study where he identified a gap in the market for Australian style marinated cheese.

"The best selling category of cheese was a trend that just didn't exist in the United States," he said.

The Tucks relocated to the United States and built their own cheese manufacturing facility in the Sonoma wine region in San Francisco's bay area.

Chevoo's cheese is made using goat's milk, marinated in extra virgin olive oil and available in range of flavours including with dill pollen and garlic, and with chilli and lemon.

Tuck said the range of more unusual flavours appeals to American palates.

Chevoo now turns over US$3 million ($4.2 million) a year with its cheeses sold in more than 1000 retailers including Whole Foods stores across the United States.

Cheese expert Will Studd credits cheese maker Richard Thomas with first developing the marinated cheese which has become a uniquely Australian product.

Thomas was inspired by cheese preserved in oil in pots in the Iranian desert and created Yarra Valley Dairy's signature Persian fetta, made using cheese from fresh cow's milk preserved in olive oil, when he was working at Yarra Valley Dairy in Victoria.

Cheesy grin: Gerard and Susan Tuck of Chevoo at their new production facility in Healdsburg, California.

Cheesy grin: Gerard and Susan Tuck of Chevoo at their new production facility in Healdsburg, California.

Thomas then moved to Meredith Dairy where he developed Meredith's best selling marinated cheese using goat's milk.

"Until Richard came up with marinated cheese in oil nobody had seen that in Australia or anywhere else besides the Middle East, it was a unique product," Studd said.

"It is something that really stands out as Australian."

Studd has his own range of Will Studd cheese which he sells in the United States and he said sales were "going gangbusters" with turnover in the country of over $2 million a year.

"We are doubling in size every year, it is just extraordinary," Studd said.

"Meredith Dairy is doing really well over there and so is Yarra Valley Dairy. 

“It's a big market over there they look to refreshing ideas."

Cheesemonger Anthony Femia of Maker and Monger said consumers in the United States can't get enough of Australian style marinated cheese.

"They say that it's like crack over there," he said​

Meredith Dairy co-founder Sandy Cameron said the Victorian business exports about 10 per cent of its product internationally including selling to China, Singapore and the United States.

Sales in the United States are strong with Cameron saying turnover is over $2 million a year there.

"The marinated cheese is doing well overseas because it is made daily with fresh milk and a good quality oil so it is appealing," she said.

"It takes a lot of dedication to make cheese daily for so many years."

Cameron said she is not surprised by Chevoo's success.

"The business is founded by the former chief executive of our main distributor, he saw what we do and knew it sells well," she said.

Tuck said there was room for Chevoo as well as the Australian imports in the United States given the sheer size of the market.

Mushroom, goats cheese pizza 

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat.

Add the butter and when foaming, add mushrooms and rosemary. Toss for 2 minutes.

Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat. Season to taste.

Top with mozzarella, mushrooms and goat’s cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and cheese has melted. Top with rocket to serve.

The story Aussie cheese addiction first appeared on Stock & Land.

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