Fall Update on Cheesemaking in the United States

Throughout this year we have been conducting research on cheesemaking in the United States. We now have information on several states, covering approximately 1/3 of total cheesemaking in the country. Most recently, we have completed our investigation into Pennsylvania, which is the first state we’ve delved into where the majority of cheese production is done using raw milk!

Here’s what we found out about Pennsylvania cheese production:

            -Pennsylvania is home to 64 cheesemakers

            -These cheesemakers are using cow, goat, and sheep’s milk in their production

            -35 cheesemakers exclusively use raw milk for their cheese

            -8 cheesemakers exclusively use pasteurized milk

            -21 cheesemakers use a mix of raw and pasteurized milk depending on the style of cheese they make

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According to a 2015-2016 USDA report on Pennsylvania agriculture:

            -Pennsylvania was the 7th largest producer of cheese in 2015

            -Their cheese production totaled 408,624 pounds and 3.5% of cheese produced in the US that year

We are excited to see cheesemakers in Pennsylvania, both large and small, utilizing the traditional techniques of raw milk cheesemaking to produce delicious cheeses for sale locally and across the country!

Since early this year we been working with the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild to extend raw milk cheese production in the state. Back in the Spring we sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture to ask for a harmonization between the state law and FDA regulation on the types of cheeses allowed to be produced in the state. This effort, coordinated by Dr. Kaylegian, has yielded real results. The state has begun to consider this request and our research will form part of the background information submitted to the state. The full State Profile is available for our industry members, including the PA Cheese Guild and other advocates in the state. Dr. Kerry E. Kaylegian is Dairy Foods Research & Extension Associate at the Department of Food Science at Penn State. She is an advocate of traditional cheese production and understands the importance of empowering producers to compete in the market place. We too believe, Pennsylvania could be a power house in artisanal and raw milk cheese production. 

In October, we will join Culture Magazine for their Counter Culture event and we will present on on our work and support for cheesemakers in the state. If you work in the cheese industry, you can register for the workshops here

We would also like to thank Cheese Coalition Members The Pennsylvania Cheese Guild for giving our research a starting point through their list of member cheesemakers!

Daniel McElligott- Oldways Cheese Coalition Research Associate