When it comes to cheese, Wisconsin creates more flavors and varieties than anywhere else on Earth — over 600 to be exact. In order to share those with the world, the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW) brings retail and food service decision makers to Wisconsin to have them taste and fall in love with high-quality, award-winning cheese.
Each year, DFW hosts dozens of domestic “Buyer Missions” where our dairy farmers and cheesemakers leave a lasting impression on 400 to 500 prospective cheese buyers visiting Wisconsin. The buyers tour a dairy farm and cheese plants, meet the cheesemakers, and learn about Wisconsin’s strict quality standards. Most importantly, they sample world-class cheese and new dairy products.
DFW works with the buyers to help them discover the next cheese that will elevate their selection for customers or make a tasteful addition to their menu. However, it’s the relationships developed between the cheesemakers and the buyers that lands Wisconsin cheese in 98 percent of all grocery stores across the country. Sharing the “Wisconsin Experience” and creating the opportunity for direct interaction with these decision makers ensures that Wisconsin dairy products end up on the plates of consumers across the globe.
Growing exports and discovering emerging markets are key priorities for DFW since the world population is growing at a faster rate than the U.S. population. Collaborating with the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and other dairy organizations on International Buyer Missions gives Wisconsin companies the opportunity to showcase Wisconsin cheeses to buyers from around the world.
In fact, last August Wisconsin hosted 11 international buyers. According to DATCP, participating companies reported over $400,000 in export sales six months after the mission.
Recently, more than a dozen prominent dairy buyers from five Middle Eastern countries traveled to Wisconsin in late June as part of a three-state Specialty Cheese Trade Mission. These buyers sell to hotels, highly rated restaurants, and supermarket chains. In addition, two Middle Eastern food writers/bloggers joined the delegation and shared details of the experience with their readers.
These events give the buyers a chance to experience a world of cheese all in one state. On the June trip, the buyers heard stories about science and innovation from owners at Carr Valley Cheese, Meister Cheese Company, and Cedar Grove Cheese.
They also met one-on-one with a dozen Wisconsin cheese company representatives and visited several supermarkets. This Buyers Mission was part of the Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Export (WIDE) program, a collaborative effort by DATCP, DFW, the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Dairy Research, and other leading dairy organizations.
With our rich dairy heritage and great tasting cheese, it’s easy to turn Wisconsin cheese into an experience. The buyers get to hear firsthand how our cheese is made and carry those stories back home to share them with their customers. That’s how you grow sales and build loyalty for Wisconsin’s dairy farmers and Wisconsin Cheese.