Wisconsin Maintains No. 1 Cheese Ranking

With 25 percent of the nation’s total cheese production, Wisconsin maintained its ranking as the nation’s top cheese-producing state in 2023.

At 942 million pounds, specialty cheese accounted for 27 percent of Wisconsin’s total cheese production. This was an increase of 13.7 million pounds from 2022, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Ninety-four of the state’s 117 cheese plants manufactured at least one type of specialty cheese during 2023.

Ever.Ag dairy broker-analyst Zach Bowers says the consumer demand is also growing for these premium cheeses.

“The consumer… has really shifted their mindset back to natural proteins, natural products,” he says. “That’s why we’re really seeing good demand growth in some of the specialty cheeses, specialty butters, things like that.”

Wisconsin cheesemakers are known for offering a wide variety of high-quality specialty cheeses. A specialty cheese is a value-added product that commands a premium price.

According to the Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute, the nature of specialty cheese is derived from one or more unique qualities, such as exotic origin, particular processing or design, limited supply, unusual application or use, and extraordinary packaging or channel of sale. The common denominator is its very high quality.