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Wisconsin Cheese Group Inc.: The Big Cheese in the Hispanic Food Sector
For nearly three decades Wisconsin Cheese Group Inc. (WCG) has been crafting Hispanic-style cheese according to age-old recipes handed down through generations of tradition. Made in America’s dairy country, WCG combines only 100-percent Wisconsin cow’s milk and cheese-making processes. Dairy masters Bill Hoesly and Dale Losenegger boast years of experience, resulting in WCG’s finest quality product.
From Queso Fresco to Panela, Oaxaca to Asadero and Muenster to Crema, WCG has fresh, melting and hard varieties of cheese to fulfill any craving. Perfectly paired with their array of cheeses is WCG’s line of meats and desserts manufactured by subsidiary company, Reynaldo’s Mexican Foods. Based in Monroe, Wis., and Los Angeles, Calif., respectively, the two companies complement each other and provide a full line of products for a traditional Hispanic meal.
“We mainly make our cheese in Wisconsin and distribute nationwide; we touch every coast and are always open to expanding our distribution,” says Doug Reed, CFO of WCG. With warehouse locations in Arizona, Chicago and New Jersey, WCG aims to meet the demands of bodegas, supermarkets, mass merchandisers and club stores of the company’s Hispanic consumers.
“We’re a privately owned company that focuses on the need to fulfill this demographics’ desire for ethnically genuine food,” says Reed. Originally established in 1986 and then acquired by William Huff of the Huff Companies in late 2004, WCG has worked to perfect its recipes and expand traditional kitchens guided by Huff’s business expertise.
A Taste of Tradition
The company carries a number of brands, most of which are aimed at aligning with different pillars of the Hispanic genre. “The taste of tradition applies to our Mexican, Caribbean and Central American lines most prominently carried under the El Viajero brand,” explains Reed. “Translated, El Viajero means the traveler, underlining the importance of the different tastes of these vibrant roots.”
Based in the heart of dairy country, WCG believes in preserving the diverse cultures and customs that make up the American landscape. For many generations and families across all backgrounds, this still comes down to quality time spent around the dining room table, savoring an authentic home-cooked meal with loved ones. Whether the meal consists of mole with cotijia cheese, warm enchiladas stuffed with savory Muenster, or tacos with shredded quesadilla cheese, it is sure to be special when incorporating WCG.
The Milk Isn’t Free
WCG’s business relies heavily on dairy farmers, which means the company relies on the weather. “We’re in a unique situation where our business is not directly affected by weather, but weather does play a large indirect role,” admits Reed. “Last year most of the country experienced months of drought. The lack of rain led to higher operating costs for dairy farmers and ultimately translated into higher milk prices for cheese producers like us.”
After many years in the business Reed knows it is all about the flow. “The real challenge is accepting the flow, and trying to understand what’s happening in an agricultural sense in the U.S. and worldwide,” he explains. “Smaller crop yields and higher feed prices also affect the price of pork and beef products needed for our chorizo and longaniza products, and I’m not talking about small percentages here.”
While remaining competitive, WCG has learned to manage the challenges of the market. “We’ve adjusted and tried to buy forward to lock in prices before the jump,” says Reed. “After all, these products feed families and, aside from excellent quality, we want to offer affordable prices.”
The company also relies on longstanding relationships with local dairy cooperatives and farmers. “We get our milk from local suppliers and apply strict standards for its quality,” he adds.
After 28 years in business, WCG has established its products as a valuable part of a traditional family meal. Selecting only locally sourced, fresh ingredients and utilizing recipes perfected over generations allows the company to produce a range of Hispanic cheeses and traditional Wisconsin brands that rival the best in the industry. Wisconsin Cheese Group Inc. continues to deliver award-winning cheeses that are just as authentic as delicious.