Local Goods Gathered Helps Maine Cheesemakers Sell Throughout New England

The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), hosted at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, provides support to dairy businesses through projects that promote the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products. 

There are over 80 artisan cheesemakers in Maine making a range of varieties, from feta to camembert to cheddar and beyond.  Unless you’re in the state, though, you’re unlikely to get a taste of Maine’s wide diversity of cheeses.  As Holly Aker, owner of Local Goods Gathered and President of the Maine Cheese Guild, put it, because of the state’s rural nature, limited distribution channels, and unique laws around pasteurization, only a small amount of cheese was leaving Maine.  

Now, thanks to a Dairy Business Viability & Technical Assistance Grant from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, Maine cheesemakers are beginning to find buyers across New England and rebound from the loss of sales due to pandemic closures of restaurants and the small scale of in-state retailers. 

“When the pandemic hit, cheesemakers had a lot of excess cheese,” Holly said, “and I started getting calls from folks saying, ‘I have 70 wheels of camembert I can’t sell,’ and ‘I had to feed 50 wheels of blue cheese to my pigs,’ because they had suddenly lost their buyers.” 

To read the rest of the story, please go to: State of Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets