October’s NZ Cheese Month encourages Kiwis to try a new cheese

Kiwis are being encouraged to try a new cheese this month to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month.

A regular event on the country’s food calendar, New Zealand Cheese Month is an initiative created and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, to draw attention to the value of the local cheese industry.

NZ Cheese Month occurs in October because it’s ‘spring flush’ the early days of spring, with warmth and soil moisture creating lush, green grass for animals to feast on. Sheep and goat milking resumes and there is plenty of fresh cheese available for cheese lovers.

NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara says the country’s cheesemaking industry is constantly evolving and she’s encouraging cheese lovers to take a fresh look and try something new.

“From its beginnings with the European settlers in the early 1800s, through to the present day; the art of cheesemaking has thrived in Aotearoa thanks to the environment producing some of the world’s best milk. This is reflected in the successful small and large New Zealand cheese producers have enjoyed on the international stage.

Now, more than ever, it is vitally important Kiwis support local cheesemakers to ensure their survival. On behalf of cheesemakers across the country, I encourage shoppers to look out for and purchase New Zealand cheese. Supporting delicious, locally made cheese will ensure it’s here for generations to come.”

McNamara says as well as enjoyment – there are sound economic reasons for Kiwis to buy New Zealand Cheese.

“Buying locally-made cheese keeps jobs and money in our country. It’s also supporting our regions as many of the cheesemakers and the farms which support them are in rural areas. Buying New Zealand cheese reduces food miles!”

NZ Champions of Cheese 2021 Master Judge Jason Tarrant, has a life-long love of cheese and can trace the evolution of New Zealand’s cheese industry through to today’s myriad options.

“When I started in the industry I recall speciality cheese was mostly confined to Camembert, Blue Vein and Cheddar. Who can forget deep-fried Camembert and the Family Block of Cheddar?

The 1980s and 1990s brought huge expansion with the development of what have become some of our most iconic cheesemaking companies; Puhoi Valley, East Tamaki Dairy Co, Whitestone Cheese Co, Kapiti and Ferndale Dairies – to name only a few.

Economic headwinds led to industry consolidation in the 2000s fuelled in part by imported EU subsidised cheeses coming into New Zealand and making it nigh-on impossible for New Zealand cheesemakers to compete because of the country’s milk price is driven by export commodity returns – making it variable and often too expensive. 

Fortunately, in recent times we’ve seen a resurgence of boutique cheesemakers setting up businesses creating quality cheese which they’re selling online, at farmers’ markets, speciality stores and supermarkets. It’s no secret New Zealand’s milk quality is amongst some of the best in the world – thanks to the fact the majority of animals are raised and fed outdoors. Additionally, the growth of milk types and their potential health benefits has led to a diverse range of speciality cheeses made from cow, sheep, buffalo, goat and even deer milk. I’ve been lucky to have tried many of these new cheeses –  most are fantastic and reflect the milk source and cheesemakers’ vision, imagination and passion. Knowing the market as I do – I encourage Kiwis to try a new cheese safe in the knowledge they will enjoy a quality product which will likely become a new favourite, and support local jobs.”

New Zealand Food Writer and author of the recently released ‘It Takes a Village – Lauraine Jacobs has been observing and writing on the NZ cheese industry for more than three decades.

She notes how the selection has evolved; “On a recent Food Writers’ jaunt to the Wairarapa, our first stop was C’est Cheese in Featherston where we met owner Paul Broughton who handcrafts his terrific award-winning cheeses, Remutaka Pass Creamery.

His adjacent and popular shop was filled with an impressive array of New Zealand cheeses, and for me, that display reinforced just how far our cheese industry has come during my food writing career, and how lucky we are to have so many passionate cheesemakers around the country, all producing an astonishing array of varieties of great cheese for us.”

Searching for NZ’S favourite cheese company

NZSCA is working with Rutherford & Meyer to find Kiwis’ favourite NZ Cheese Company.

Cheese lovers are encouraged to visit this website to vote for their favourite NZ Cheese Company. The NZ Cheese Company with the most votes at the end of NZ Cheese Month will be named Rutherford & Meyer Favourite NZ Cheese Company

Rutherford and Meyer owner Jan Meyer says being a proud NZ owned and operated business the partnership with NZ Cheese Month couldn’t have been more perfect. “Pairing our artisan range of crackers and fruit pastes with New Zealand’s best cheeses = a match made in heaven.”

Rutherford and Meyer are highlighting their number one fruit paste – Quince throughout NZ Cheese Month, because it’s the perfect accompaniment for every cheese platter. Jan Meyer says “Quince paste pairing perfectly whether you’re enjoying creamy blue, soft brie, earthy camembert or even a nutty gouda – it matches with great NZ Cheese!

Find NZ cheese on the CheeseLovers NZ website

Wherever cheese lovers live or holiday in New Zealand NZSCA has developed a resource to make it easy for them to find NZ Cheese.

The directory of New Zealand cheesemakers, top cheese retailers and farmers’ markets on the website has been updated in time for NZ Cheese Month. Cheese lovers can search by region for cheese.

Additionally, CheeseLovers includes a page with links to special cheese offers from NZSCA cheesemaking members. Meaning New Zealand’s finest cheese is only a couple of clicks away from delivery to any home in the country.

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