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Growing B.C.’s artisan cheese industry for B.C. cheesemakers…

VICTORIA, BC: A new association has been formed, bringing together British Columbians involved in the artisan cheese sector to help shine a light on this growing industry.

Artisan cheese is a unique product that can be developed through value-added food processing. Cheesemakers can work with dairy suppliers to turn B.C. milk into an amazing variety of tasty cheeses, ranging in types from blue cheese to cheddar and brie, and using milk from goats, sheep and water buffaloes, as well as cows.

“The BC Artisan Cheese Association is creating a space for B.C.’s cheesemakers to share experiences, challenges and successes with one another,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “It’s also an opportunity for them to network and connect with other British Columbians to increase value-added food processing right here in B.C.”

The BC Artisan Cheese Association (BCACA) has been created to represent the province’s artisan cheesemakers and the individuals from different sectors involved in the cheese-making process, starting with the source of the milk to the finished product on grocery store shelves. There are approximately 25 artisan cheese producers throughout B.C.

“Cheesemakers across B.C. are being noticed for their creativity and impressive quality,” said Emma Davison, chair, BCACA. “We’re using B.C. milk, which has some of the highest standards in the world. We make some of Canada’s best cheeses right here in B.C. Becoming unified in this association allows us to leverage our reach and educate consumers about the importance of cheeses that are produced locally.”

The BCACA, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture, is gathering in Vernon, for a two-day strategic planning session and its first annual general meeting. B.C.’s artisan cheesemakers, along with members of the BC Milk Marketing Board, BC Dairy Association and other closely related organizations, are attending to take part in the strategic planning session with an opportunity to share knowledge and become members of this new organization.

The founding members of BCACA are from cheese companies in B.C.’s dairy centres. They include Davison of Golden Ears Cheesecrafters in the Fraser Valley and Jason Dykstra, director and treasurer, from Mt. Lehman Cheese Company, also in the Fraser Valley. Raymond Gourlay, vice-chair and secretary, is from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks on Vancouver Island.

The Ministry of Agriculture is supporting value-added food processing in B.C. through Feed BC, to create more opportunities for British Columbians in food processing, like those in the artisan cheese sector, and others wanting to get involved.

Written and released by BC Government.

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