Point Reyes Farmstead Launches New Line
With consumers clamoring for flavored options, the cheesemaker doubles down on creating its latest innovative products
by Kayla Webb
I think there are a few misconceptions when it comes to change. Often times, we believe change has to encompass a 360-degree, about-face from where something once was. But sometimes change is as simple as expanding the scope of potential or even adding a new line to your staple portfolio—both of which are the case for Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.
Last year, Point Reyes Farmstead agreed with its customers that it was about time it took its popular and beloved Toma cheese down new avenues. This led the cheesemaker and its team to develop a line of flavored Toma cheeses, which are officially launching this September. I chatted with Lynn Stray, Director of Sales and Operations, and Kuba Hemmerling, Head Cheesemaker and Plant Manager, to learn more about the launch of the Flavored Tomas this fall.
“We’ve been asked to do flavored cheeses for quite some time,” Lynn began. “And to be a part of different holiday offerings at retail, you need new items. We were always purists and wanted to stick to our traditional varieties, but customers kept asking us for flavored items. Finally, last year, we went to the drawing board. The most important aspect of our flavored cheeses is the base. Anyone can put spices on a mediocre cheese, in order to differentiate and represent our commitment to quality, it was crucial that we flavored a cheese that was already good by itself, which is why we chose our Toma cheese—a creamy, buttery, and flavorful cheese.”
Kuba added, “Toma for us is a quintessential table cheese, so our main goal with the flavored options was making sure each flavor we brought to it paired well and didn’t overshadow the Toma itself. We wanted the added flavor to come secondary to provide a well-rounded flavor experience. At the beginning, we tried eight to ten different spices, like chili flakes, basil, and unique spices like Zatar. We ultimately decided on Shichimi Togarashi, Herbs de Provence, and Truffle.”
Rather than releasing a line with a million basic flavors, Lynn and Kuba emphasized that Point Reyes Farmstead was insistent on choosing flavors that were sophisticated and unique. On top of that, Point Reyes Farmstead was also looking for flavors that captured the essence of the fall and winter seasons. As a result, the Shichimi Togarashi, with its sesame and nori notes, is perfect for adding warmth to heartier fall dishes; the Herbs de Provence, with its palette similar to a roasted turkey dinner, is perfect for Thanksgiving; and the Truffle, with its earthy and complex finish, is perfect for holiday entertaining, especially when paired with sparkling wine.
And, to give the new flavored line a boost on store shelves, Point Reyes Farmstead riffed on the original Toma cheese name for each item: TomaRashi, TomaProvence, and TomaTruffle.
“Each flavor also features a play on the personalities each cheese represents. For example, the TomaRashi is feisty and kind of nutty; TomaProvence is charming while quite refined; and TomaTruffle is grounded yet spontaneous. As part of our marketing efforts, we’re offering retailers buttons and bandanas to merchandise with the cheeses so that consumers can pick out which personality matches their own,” Lynn continued. “Also, since we chose to keep Toma in the name of our flavored cheeses, we’re hoping this gives new and mainstay consumers the confidence that these cheeses are good quality and delicious. We soft-launched this idea at both Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and it was a success.”
In addition to the new line, Point Reyes Farmstead also celebrated the grand opening of a new creamery in Petaluma, California last year—the company’s second creamery. “We chose to open a new creamery to expand production capacity, our aging facilities and bring in new state-of-the-art equipment. The new creamery is focused on growing our Bay Blue and Toma cheeses, since both have a burgeoning cult following,” Kuba said. “In the last 18 months, we’ve really gained a lot of new placements and the opening in January of 2018 provided the perfect growth timeline for our new Toma offering.”
The new flavored Toma line will begin rolling out this fall, with whole wheel and exact weight 6-ounce options. For more information, visit www.pointreyescheese.com. For more of the latest happening in deli, dairy, bakery, and specialty foods, stay right here with Deli Market News.