MADISON, WIS. – The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) following a competitive review process selected six companies to receive the combined $1 million that is available through this year’s Dairy Industry Impact grants.
The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), which partners with the Center for Dairy Research to run the DBIA, announced the grant recipients: Cedar Grove Cheese, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, CROPP Cooperative, Fromage Spa, Redhead Creamery and Specialty Cheese Co.
The companies were chosen based on specific projects, which were determined capable of making a positive impact on the dairy industry. The grant program distributes up to $250,000 in funds for USDA-eligible expenses related to a company’s project.
Each of the successful dairy projects is listed below:
• Plain, Wis.-based Cedar Grove Cheese is developing a tracking system that helps farms document their conservation practices. The system also will record a farm’s environmental impact and make available to consumers data regarding such aspects as carbon sequestration, water usage and animal welfare practices.
• Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, in Waterloo, Wis., is working on new fresh mozzarella packaging with an extended shelf life in mind. The project also aims to reduce costs and switch to sustainable packaging materials.
• In La Farge, Wis., CROPP Cooperative looks to improve product quality and inventory management by micro-fixing its production processes. Potentially, the cooperative thinks dairy plants will be able to process enough milk to meet market demand without having an impact on operational efficiency.
• Fromage Spa has a project focused on reducing food waste. The Green Bay, Wis., company is testing how to recycle packaged butter. It aims to find an efficient and sanitary approach that would be adaptable for large- and small-scale operations.
• Brooten, Minn.-based Redhead Creamery wants to help artisan cheesemakers convert whey into a value-added alcohol. That process in most cases requires complex equipment that isn’t accessible for smaller processors. The project aims to change that.
• In Reeseville, Wis., Specialty Cheese Co.’s project involves a novel method for separating curd and whey that it hopes to commercialize. The company thinks the method, which brings the benefits of both high separation rates and maintaining the integrity of weak cheese curds, can be commercialized for paneer cheese and is “very likely” to work for ricotta and other soft curd cheeses.
WCMA executive director John Umhoefer said, “DBIA supports projects designed to spur new growth and boost profitability not just for individual businesses, but for the greater dairy industry.”
In 2021, DBIA, which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, distributed its first round of reimbursable grants totaling $600,000. The Dairy Industry Impact grant program supports medium to large dairy companies that are developing innovations that will benefit the industry.