Since one does not often see the words “artisan cheese” combined with “Sargento”, I was rather perplexed by this notion. After all, Sargento is a national cheese brand best known for its pre-packaged sandwich cheese slices and shredded commodity cheeses carrying the Green Bay Packers logo. Based in Plymouth, Wis., it’s one of our state’s best known commodity cheese makers and its line-up of packaged cheeses is found in nearly every grocery store across Wisconsin.
Well, turns out that Sargento is now plunging into the artisan cheese market by creating a “ground-breaking product for the specialty cheese category.” As far as I can tell, this product consists of packages of blended shredded cheeses from three Wisconsin cheese companies and one Italian cheese company.
According to the press release, Sargento’s Artisan Blends will arrive in stores nationwide next month and will be available in six shredded varieties:
- Parmesan made with Zanetti imported Grana Padano
- Parmesan & Romano made with Zanetti imported Grana Padano
- Whole Milk Mozzarella and Whole Milk Mozzarella & Provolone made with Burnett Dairy Whole Milk Mozzarella
- Double Cheddar made using Sharp Cheddar from Maple Leaf
- Swiss Blend made with Roth Käse Grand Cru Gruyere.
Sargento has even spiced up its website by adding earth tones, a fancy schmancy set of intro screens and declaring itself as: “Persnickety People, Exceptional Cheese.”
So to recap, Sargento is blending and shredding cheeses from the following companies: Roth Käse USA, Inc. of Monroe, Wis; Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, Wis; Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Grantsburg, Wis; and the Zanetti family of Italy.
They are then re-packaging these cheeses and calling them “Artisan Blends”.
While this has to be good for the business side of Wisconsin cheese companies, I can’t decide if the entire concept is marketing genius or if it’s the next step on a slippery slope that may eventually negate the meaning of the words “artisan cheese.”
Time will tell. I’ll be interested to sample the products once they hit my grocery store shelf.