Cheese processor now under OU certification
WINNIPEG — Bothwell Cheese, Canada’s largest independently owned cheese processor, is beginning to roll out its line of Orthodox Union-certified cheeses across Canada.
“We are getting calls for potential new clients from across the country, and even a few from New York asking about the availability of our products,” said Steven Gettis, the company’s director of sales and marketing.
“We are very proud to have achieved this [OU] certification and thrilled about the prospects of introducing our cheese to new customers,” said Ivan Balenovic, the 75-year-old processor’s president and CEO, in a statement.
“We have always had exceptional factory standards, and this certification by a well-respected third party provides further verification. Many of our loyal customers have been requesting kosher cheese, and we’re delighted to make it available.”
Bothwell, located in the small community of New Bothwell, about 30 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, has actually been producing kosher cheese in small quantities for special orders since the early 1980s. A mashgiach would come in as required – perhaps every second week.
However, as of the beginning of January, an OU mashgiach has been on site every day. The company wanted to sell off its remaining non-kosher cheeses that were already in the pipeline before rolling out its new kosher products, Gettis said in explaining the delay.
Bothwell Cheese produces 28 different cheese varieties, as well as cheese curds, shredded cheese and cheese powder. The company uses only fresh, locally produced milk in its products and no modified milk ingredients, fillers or preservatives. Dairy farmers still deliver their milk directly to Bothwell, one of the few remaining Canadian artisanal cheese makers that are still thriving today.
The processor has contracts to supply all the national Canadian supermarket chains with its cheeses.
“Our sales have tripled since 2001,” Gettis said.
The company is particularly proud of the number of awards Bothwell Cheese has earned in recent years. The company has won first prize in the British Empire Cheese Competition for the past five years in a row for its marble cheese.
Among Bothwell’s cheeses are gouda, edam, swiss, munster, cheddar, horseradish, mozzarella, red hot chili pepper, marble and jalapeno, to list a few.
Gettis noted that although most of the cheeses are now kosher, there are still three or four that are not because of their ingredients (such as the company’s red wine cheese).
“We are working with the OU to source kosher alternatives for those ingredients,” he said.