CDR helps firm create an awesome blue cheese…and 54 jobs

When it comes to fueling the economy, there’s nothing like having a university in the state. In a new CALS video, cheese maker Mike Brennestuhl explains how a longstanding relationship with the UW-Madison Center for Dairy Research (CDR) helped him start and grow a new cheese manufacturing business in Seymour that now employs 54 people with an annual payroll of more than $1.25 million. Seymour Dairy will purchase up to 70 million pounds of Wisconsin milk in 2011 and has recently begun a plant expansion project to help it meet increasing customer demand.

Brennenstuhl began Seymour Dairy Products in January 2005. Armed with market research that pointed toward “blue cheese” as the product most in demand, Brennenstuhl went to work with John Jaeggi and Mark Johnson at the CDR to develop a distinctive blue cheese variety that Seymour Dairy could roll out. The original recipe, Ader Kase, was an immediate hit with customers and soon became an international sensation.

“In 2008, we entered our cheese in the world cheese contest. Out of 63 or 65 cheeses, it took first place. It was the best blue cheese in the world,” Brennenstuhl says. “That cheese was from the original recipe developed by John Jaeggi and myself at the CDR. It still stands today.”

The CDR, found under the umbrella of the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, works with hundreds of individuals and scores of companies small and large every year. In addition to helping cheese makers produce new and better cheeses, the CDR also provides education and technical support for the dairy food processing industry, explains Jaeggi, CDR coordinator of cheese industry and applications programs.

People from throughout the dairy processing business look to the CDR for its research, development, and educational programs for everything from new products, employee education, food safety, and plant processes to mention a few, Jaeggi says. The CDR is recognized internationally for producing results.

Seymour Dairy Products hopes to continue its longstanding relationship with the people in the CDR. “I know I want to continue to reach out to the CDR to assist me in making my business stronger,” Brennenstuhl says.