Are You Really Ready to Cut the Cheese?

By Anthony Harris

cheeseAny start-up business can face more adversity than there are holes found in a block of Swiss, especially when it comes to the rising, competitive artisan cheese market in the state. Luckily, researchers from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University are looking to protect these startups so they can avoid emptying their pockets from the get go. The recent study, which was published by the Journal of Dairy Science, is reportedly the first to estimate the costs involved Oregon cheese production. And it indicates even the most confident cheese makers can fork over $250,000 towards set up operations alone.

These researchers created a tool that takes several factors into cost considerations. For example whether cow, goat or sheep milk is used in the process, what type of cheese (blue cheese, mozzarella, cheddar) is being made, as well as the prospective labor costs, production location, marketing expenses and even fuel costs to get the cheese from creamery to customers. These things could be easily overlooked by industry newbies.

According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, as of this year there are 20 artisan cheese manufactures in the state, up from just three in 1999. So researchers had to interview both large- and small-scale Oregon-based companies. They determined that a bigger company that produces around 60,000 pounds of cheese per year accruing start up costs of up to $623,874, provided the company has its own facilities. It was estimated that much could be added on to a first year operation’s costs. Smaller companies would make about 7,500 pounds a year spending $267,248, and its first year production cost coming in just over $65,000.

As you can see, one must spend plenty of cheese to make cheese.