In 2019, international fast food chain A&W sold over 7 million pounds of Wisconsin cheese curds. Lined up end-to-end, the curds would equal two round trips from Milwaukee to Green Bay, according to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.
Building relationships between Wisconsin dairy and restaurants nationwide is the job of Rick Findlay, the vice president of food service at DFW, the marketing arm for the state’s dairy industry. Findlay says DFW has been working with A&W for about five years.
He says what drew A&W to maintain Wisconsin cheese curds on their menu was larger ticket sizes, more transactions and the unique master cheese makers in America’s Dairyland. Today A&W serves original and siracha cheese curds, and the restaurant is working on a third flavor with hopes to launch the new curd later this year.
Findlay says restaurants using Wisconsin cheese can charge a premium that consumers are willing to pay for of up to 30 percent on menu items such as pizzas, burgers and sandwiches. He works with more than 60 restaurant chains nationwide.
Other big names that DFW partners with for Wisconsin cheese are Culvers, Famous Dave’s, Medici Pizzas, Donatos Pizzas, Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s Pizza.