Do You Know Where Your Cheese Comes From?

08 Apr 2011
by John Foley
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Cheese --- and QR Codes?

Cheese, cheese, beautiful cheese… It’s a living food made of milk and bacteria. Good bacteria. Microbes and enzymes in the cheese transform the texture and flavors of the cheese as it ages. That aging can last several days or several years.

Additional bacteria or mold may be intentionally introduced before or during the aging process to turn into soft ripened cheese (Brie and Camembert), blue cheese (Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola) and rind-washed cheese (Limburger). Good bacteria means good cheese.

While we count on good bacteria to do its magic, sometimes the bad kind ends up on the cheese.

And in this day of food recalls – five recalls of cheese in November 2010 alone – food safety is top of mind for consumers.

How to help consumers feel more secure? Take a lesson from Port Townsend Food Co-op and Mt. Townsend Creamery, on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington. Michael Vicha, head cheesemaker at the Creamery recorded several short video clips, each telling why a certain kind of cheese is unique.

Those videos were linked to QR Codes printed on “shelf talkers” so consumers could use their ever-handy smart phones to scan the codes and view the videos.

Expand that concept to include a quick tour of the cheese plant and your customers will know why each cheese is special, where it comes from, who made it, and how clean they keep their operation.

Do It Yourself for Retailers

How to apply this in real life?

  • Get out your video camera and record your cheesemaker describing the unique characteristics of each of his cheeses or visit the dairy/creamery and record a virtual tour.
  • Publish the videos on YouTube.
  • Use the YouTube links to make QR codes at QReateandTrack – one for each cheese. (A rich brown would be a nice color, don’t you think?)
  • Print “shelf talkers” with individual QR codes and install them.
  • Stand back and watch your customers learn more and buy more.

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