Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2017

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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A decade ago, mozzarella di bufala owned the category of water-buffalo cheese. If it was possible to even make another style of cheese with water-buffalo milk, nobody knew it. Water-buffalo Taleggio? Water-buffalo Camembert? Water-buffalo blue cheese? Don't be ridiculous. Cheeses made from water-buffalo milk now go far beyond mozzarella di bufala. And customers are noticing. BY JANET FLETCHER Bufala Bonanza Today, an enthusiast could assemble a platter of water- buffalo cheeses with a symphony of tastes and textures. Choices are proliferating in this niche, sales are climbing, and smart retailers are expanding their offering to please those customers who love new experiences. The Challenges of Supply and Demand Michele Buster, proprietor of Forever Cheese, the New York- based importer, helped launch the category when, 10 years ago, she began bringing in the aged water-buffalo cheeses produced by Quattro Portoni in Italy's Lombardy region. The two brothers behind Quattro Portoni developed the first significant water-buffalo herd in Northern Italy. When they began cheesemaking in 2006, even their consultant from the local dairy school did not know how to develop recipes beyond mozzarella for this high-fat, high-protein milk. Buster's business with Quattro Portoni "has definitely more than doubled," she says, "but it has never been easy." The cheeses are expensive because the milk is scarce. The hefty, docile bufala produces exceptionally rich milk—up to 10 percent in fat and 5 percent in protein, similar to sheep's milk—but not much of it. And because Italy's water-buffalo herds descend from a small pool of parents, they have genetic weaknesses that can cause birth defects and other abnormali- ties, reducing supply even further. Although the skyrocketing popularity of mozzarella di bufala suggests otherwise, Italy has less than one percent of the world's water buffalo. Ninety-five percent of these sturdy cheese focus 36 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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