WCMA Notes: Learn and Grow at CheeseExpo

Posted By: John Umhoefer WCMA News,

Submitted by John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director

There’s no event in the dairy industry like CheeseExpo – combining multiple cutting-edge education topics and adding a massive display of equipment, automation, packaging and ingredient solutions. It’s the all-in-one tool for dairy processors.

At Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, we’re hearing the excitement among the nation’s manufacturers and suppliers as CheeseExpo approaches. Cheesemakers will meet buyers, technology suppliers will meet plant managers, quality assurance staff will hear the latest food safety research – it will be a frenzy of activity that builds business relationships and sparks opportunities.

Can’t wait.

The super-sized successor to the former International Cheese Technology Expo, CheeseExpo continues to anchor itself in education – in multiple tracks of morning seminars, and extraordinary, hands-on displays on the exhibit floor.

It draws the best educators – Center for Dairy Research, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, U.S. Dairy Export Council, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association – and looks to the future, hosting the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest, WCMA’s Young Professionals cohort, an onsite Job Fair and the Artisan Track seminar for entrepreneurs.

It draws a breadth of exhibitors beyond any dairy exposition in North America – 327 companies offering solutions ranging from software to new packaging, robotics to processing equipment, construction to sanitation supplies.

CheeseExpo begins April 13 with a U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC)-led panel of CEOs describing global marketing opportunities, and USDEC immediately follows that powerhouse panel with a deeper dive into export market data, navigating international regulations, and USDEC’s own programs to help processors succeed.

At the same time on April 13, Center for Dairy Research (CDR) offers the latest cheese research on extending cheese shelf life and optimizing manufacturing efficiency when handling and converting curd.

Artisan dairy producers have their own session April 13, with CDR and industry specialists examining artisan cheese manufacturing equipment, cheese molds, curing room environments and specialty cheese cutting and packaging equipment.

There’s also focus on the crucial issue of finding and retaining great employees.  A Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association workforce seminar offers a peer-to-peer panel of dairy processors who are innovating in employment policies and diversity goals to build a loyal workforce. And a highlight: a “Leading through Change” interactive workshop is embedded right in this workforce seminar.

The morning closes with a general session: Krysta Harden, President and CEO of USDEC, has the final word on arguably dairy’s largest opportunity – the globalization of dairy sales. The winners in exporting will be the nations that embrace sustainable milk production and dairy processing.

And that’s just the first day.

April 14 opens with a celebration available to all attendees – the WCMA Recognition Breakfast. There you’ll learn the secret that sets the dairy industry apart: the extraordinary leaders, educators, suppliers, marketers and cheesemakers honored here exemplify the dairy industry’s passion and caring far beyond “doing the job.” They display the expertise and quiet pride that makes the dairy industry special.

This uplifting breakfast is the perfect introduction for the morning seminars that follow. For example, the food safety session led by Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and CDR typifies dairy’s long tradition of leading the food industry in product safety. An industry panel addresses the Innovation Center’s focus on building a food safety culture in dairy plants, and another panel discusses prevention of foreign material in products. Dr. Kathy Glass, the nation’s top food safety researcher, closes this seminar with a look at pathogen control in fresh cheeses and brine.

At the same time on April 14, CDR will fill their seminar room with manufacturers eager to hear CDR cheese experts discuss cheese quality. Bitterness and acidity control in cheese, crystal formation in aged products, and brine and phage control are all on the agenda for this must-attend session for cheesemakers.

Grading and marketing staff will enjoy another CDR seminar April 14: Creating an Effective Cheese Grading Program. This session will lay out the building blocks of an effective grading program, then shift to a workshop with hands-on grading for everyone in attendance.

Look for details at CheeseExpo.org. And join an event built to help a great industry find new heights.