WI DAIRY NEWS: WI cheese with a south of the border kick - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

WI DAIRY NEWS: WI cheese with a south of the border kick

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MADISON (WKOW)-- Queso, oaxaca queso quesadilla, queso fresco and manchego may be unfamiliar to some folks, but in grocery stores, especially in larger U.S. cities, these cheese varieties are in demand.

Hispanic cheese production has grown steadily over the past decade, averaging 9.1% growth per year since 2001. In 2011, Wisconsin produced 59 million pounds of Hispanic cheese.

Executive director of the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association John Umhoefer says two things are accountable for the rise in the diary treat's popularity.

"I think there's more being sold at retail to the Hispanic community," Umhoefer said. "And there's a food service opportunity that is really growing on the food service side as well."

Now Wisconsin cheesemakers are cashing in on those opportunities by increasing their production of Hispanic cheeses. When David Webster and his partner, Kevin Wyss, came back to Wisconsin in 2000, they concentrated on making only Hispanic-style cheeses and in 2010 opened W & W Dairy where they craft about 30,000 pounds of cheese each day.

"I think there's a boundless demand right now for Hispanic cheese, I think we've only scratched the surface in Wisconsin, so there's a great opportunity," said Umhoefer.

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