REESEVILLE, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) - One Wisconsin cheesemaker is dealing with high demand during the coronavirus pandemic because of their unique product.
Specialty Cheese Company is based in Reeseville. The family-owned company launched Just The Cheese on Amazon in 2018. They look almost like granola bars, but they’re actually pure cheese. “We make the cheese in house, we shred it up, we put it in little cookie crumbs, and we bake it. And that’s it,” said owner David Scharfman. “It’s 100% Wisconsin cheese.”
The cheese bars are keto-friendly, leading them to get popular on Amazon quickly.
These days though, it’s their shelf-stable status that’s leading to high demand. As people try to stock their pantries during the pandemic, cheese you don’t have to refrigerate and can keep on the shelf has grown demand. “It was already popular, and we had a huge spike on Amazon for people buying shelf-stable stuff,” Scharfman said. “And then we’re in about 3,500 retail locations nationwide, and the only place people can go is to the store. So the increased traffic has been pretty good.”
Specialty Cheese doesn’t just make the baked cheese bars though. About half the business is in fresh cheese, the other sells the bars. The fresh cheese business is struggling, like many other cheesemakers across Wisconsin right now. “The fresh cheese side, we sell a lot of food service and retail,” Scharfman said. “And the food service is basically gone. But the retail is okay.”
Because they have the baked and fresh sides of the business, Specialty Cheese has an added stream of income many cheesemakers don’t. “We’re definitely very lucky.”
The owners have implemented new safety measures, and staffers still want to come to work. “On the baked cheese side, we are running full-tilt and are planning on doing so for the entire month of April,” said Scharfman. “Which again, puts us in the very lucky few.”
After getting a message from a healthcare worker in New York City who loves the bars, they’ve donated about two pallets’ worth of them to medical staff and food pantries across the country. Scharfman said the goal is to help keep those workers going during their long shifts saving lives.
Scharfman will appear on Shark Tank April 10 to pitch Just The Cheese.