Cheesemakers Can’t Keep Up

High demand doesn’t sound like a problem, until the company cannot meet that demand. Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook, owner of Carr Valley Cheese in LaValle, says inflation and supply chain disruption is making it difficult for the plant to handle the holiday surge.

Cook reminds consumers of how often a supply chain can be disrupted, from packaging supplies at a cheese plant to a labor shortage — no one to stock the shelves — at a grocery store. And if you’re wondering why price tags have larger numbers on them, Cook says inflation is affecting the price of everything, from transportation to cheese boxes.

Shipping delays have pushed delivery timelines out by months, moving dates of equipment, truck or even ingredient arrivals. It’s extended the plant’s order fill time from 10 days to three weeks.

But that’s not all. The labor shortage is making it difficult for Cook to meet his holiday demand for cheese gift boxes. Cook has been progressive in dealing with labor shortages for the past 15 years, including embracing automation. In an interview with the Mid-West Farm Report, he expresses concern about policymaking that has led to such a tight workforce these past two years.

He says it’s not just his cheese plant that is experiencing these issues. Carr Valley Cheese’s store also features locally produced jams, meats and syrups. Those local makers are facing the same challenges as Cook.