Food Processing Center


Date of this Version

October 2001




This report is intended to be an overview of the specialty cheese market and the marketing of its products. The report also attempts to uncover some of the opportunities and barriers associated with entering the specialty cheese market. The report begins with a discussion of the recent foodservice and retail industry trends, as well as the way the industry is continuing to promote and expand the specialty cheese market.

The report then turns its focus to what will be identified as the “Four P’s” of specialty cheese. This section is intended to assist individuals, farmers, small and mid-size producers and potential business owners, and others with an overview of the “marketing mix” and some of the necessary strategies to market their products. The section on the “Four P’s” is not intended as a “one size fits all marketing plan” but rather as a way to understand alternative markets (such as specialty cheese), and their function, structure, participants, and distribution channels. Although many of the marketing tasks (identifying a product, selecting and monitoring a channel of distribution, and developing a promotional and pricing strategy) a business owner has to face may seem overwhelming, its presentation is necessary in order to understand the nature of each task and how their structure leads to the success or failure of a product. Small producer-owned businesses need to be aware of these marketing tasks, and consequently take on as many as possible, to ensure the success of their business. As a small beginning specialty cheese business enterprise, owners are often required to wear many hats. This means that these small business owners have the responsibility for multiple business and marketing functions such as marketing, distribution of products, as well as business and finance manager functions.

Successful small cheese-making businesses have been analyzed to determine the market structures, niches, products and marketing strategies that have made them into successful businesses. These enterprises have been successful because they use “big business” marketing techniques to market their products on a much smaller but still-profitable scale. The report attempts to illustrate these “big business” techniques with the hope that the small business owner will be able to use some of them to his advantage in order to successfully compete in the industry.

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