It’s Prime Time For Pine River Cheese

When the cold weather hits, and football is on TV, the holiday gatherings kick into high gear… that’s when consumers are smothering everything in cheese, making it a busy time of year for cheese processors.

Pine River Pre-Pack President Ian Behm says between the FFA fruit boxes, flavor innovation, and the holidays, the cheese plant in Newton is in its prime time.

“A big chunk of our production happens between July and November,” Behm says. “We’ll be busy here through Thanksgiving and into the first couple weeks of December.”

Pine River has 37 employees, running between 50,000 and 100,000 containers of cheese totaling 30,000 to 60,000 lbs. In 2023, they’ll produce more than 10 million cheese cups, which is a record-breaking year. The ingredients come from Wisconsin milk and cheese.

A record production year is fitting as the company celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Behm says Pine River is looking at creating a new bold, premium flavor line that he expects to roll out in 2024. These innovative flavors will meet demand from younger generations that want a high-end, new tasting experience.

Customers are also using the cheese differently. Pine River cheese spread is not meant for just crackers anymore. The product is used anywhere someone may use cheese: eggs, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, the list goes on.

Pine River also continues its partnership with the FFA fruit box fundraisers. Behm says this is yet another market that their cheese spread is seeing growth.