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growth Rumiano Cheese positions for

Rumiano Cheese Company has started construction on a new 46,766 square-foot cheese processing and packaging plant in northern California, that the company's Chief Executive Officer believes will springboard innovation for the 102-year-old pioneer in California cheese-making. Rumiano is California's oldest family-owned cheese company, with a business that relies on retail, ingredients and foodservice sales. The new plant will add to the range of retail packages that the company offers for sale, and Rumiano projects that its current packaging volume will double by the end of 2025 as retail demand continues to grow. The company is also planning to scale up its direct-to-consumer products, including its Board at Home program, which supports California's artisanal community. The program offers curated cheese board kits that can be shipped overnight to consumers across the country. The company started Board at Home in March of 2020 as a way to bolster sales for local artisanal producers suffering from the impacts of COVID-19 as restaurants were forced to suspend their indoor dining operations. The program accelerated through the summer as it became clear that consumers were hungry to learn about local artisanal products along with the nourishment from the products themselves, and that the companies that made those products were eager to provide the education, said Joe Baird, Rumiano's CEO. “What we are also able to do for this community of artisans, we're trying to bring, not just the experience, but the story of these artisans as well,” he said. “Long term, we're thinking about experience and education – how we can give people those things back in brick and mortar.” The new facility will also enhance Rumiano's ability to collaborate with other northern California artisans by adding capabilities to offer more efficient wheel-cutting and packaging of artisan cheeses. As some of the operations currently taking place in Rumiano's existing facilities are moved into the new Willows location, the company will have the space in the existing facility to add to its aging caves. That expansion will offer collaborative opportunities for affinage of young cheeses produced by other artisanal cheesemakers. “We're listening and working with some of them. We do see some things we can do [together with fellow members of California's artisan cheese community],” Baird said. 16

The Cheese Guide

“We see a deepening of the relationship through these things we're doing with Board at Home and direct-to-consumer capabilities.” The company is also thinking about product line extensions to attract corporate clients, cater to small gatherings and offer new pre-packaged options for grocery retailers looking for new options to upgrade their cheese cases, although the execution on those ideas is not imminent, according to Baird. Located a short distance from the existing plant, the new site will occupy four acres of a new 38-acre commercial industrial park being developed by the city of Willows. The facility is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2021. “The city’s assistance with this industrial development site made it possible for us to remain here in Willows where we’ve been successfully operating for 102 years,” said John Rumiano, Vice President and third-generation co-Owner at Rumiano Cheese Company. “We are eager to deepen our long-standing contribution to this wonderful community, and we remain committed to our dedicated employees, many of whom have been with us for 30 to 40 years.” Construction of the new facility is supported by a $1.8 million economic development loan from the city of Willows along with private funding. Rumiano will retain all 150 current employees and is actively recruiting for additional employees to support the new growth plans. Rumiano currently employs more than 200 people between its production plant in Crescent City, California, where the cheese is made, and its facility in Willows, where all products are processed and packaged for distribution. In line with Rumiano’s ongoing commitment to reducing energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions through sustainable and ecofriendly practices that mitigate the effects of climate change, the new Willows plant, like the company’s existing facilities, will eventually run on renewable solar energy generated on-site. The new plant will also be Safe Quality Food standards (SQF) certified. “The city of Willows is proud to work with a family-run and community-oriented business,” said Willows City Manager Wayne Peabody. “We look forward to the continued growth of the business and the opportunities that will arise from Rumiano Cheese being in the city of Willows.”

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Gourmet News • Spring Cheese Guide 2021  

Gourmet News • Spring Cheese Guide 2021  

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