Dairy Science Department
BS in Dairy Science
The aim of this study was to determine the financial profitability of artisan cheese making, why it has become popular, processing differences compared commercial processing and any issues within the industry. Many studies suggest that the consumers are the driving force behind the increased popularity of artisan cheese. Consumption of specialty or artisan cheese grew by 75% between the years of 1994 and 2003. This movement in the American culture towards locally made small scale products can also be observed in other industries. The consumers preferences have changed they are now willing to pay more for a high quality product.
Within the artisan cheese industry the popularity of raw milk cheeses was greater than the pasteurized milk cheeses. In a survey conducted by Oregon State University professors the consumer was still willing to pay for raw milk cheeses even if they thought that it could be a less safe product.
This cheese comes at a higher price though, it costs the dairyman more to produce artisan cheese then it would cost a large scale commercial creamery to produce the same cheese. Dairymen have to commit more of their time to make the business profitable. The most profitable on-farm processing that I observed were the goats and sheep dairies. An even more profitable group of dairies were the goats and sheeps dairies that were able to diversify their business.