Author Topic: Artisan cheese makers ?  (Read 2129 times)

Offline jwalker

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Artisan cheese makers ?
« on: March 12, 2013, 04:33:26 PM »
I am playing with the idea of becoming a small scale cheese maker licensed to sell products in BC. , that's one of the reason I joined this board.

So far the information I have recieved is this:

All dairy processing plants in BC must be licenced as a dairy processing plant per the BC Milk Industry Act and regulations.
The BC Centre for Disease Control is the agency responsible for the licensing and inspection of dairy processing plants.

Three (3) copies of the plans for the dairy processing plant must be submitted to this office for approval prior to starting construction.
Processing equipment must meet 3-A certification or equivalency. It would be prudent for you to contact our office prior to finalizing any equipment purchases (especially if you are purchasing used equipment) to ensure that they will meet BC regulations and standards.

In BC, the operator and all employees of dairy processing plants must be licenced as dairy processing plant workers. The main prerequisite for licensing is the successful completion of the BCIT Dairy Worker Course.  This course must be completed by the operator and the plant's employees before the dairy plant will be licenced.

Onsite retail sale of finished dairy products: dairy products are considered to be potentially hazardous foods. If you plan to have a retail store at your plant, the local Health Authority will need to approve/license the retail outlet.


I was wondering if there are some artisan cheese makers here from BC that have gone thru these hurdles , if not ion BC , I would still be interested to hear from others in other areas that have gone thru  to the licensing and retail stage.

Was just wondering how big of initial cash outlay would be needed to set up a small operation , say 50 gallons of milk per week , and what kind of time line it might be from start to finish.
I live in an area that has quite a few commercial daries , so purchasing the milk shouldn't be a problem.

I would also like to see some photos of small operations just to get an idea of what it might take.

Any feedback at all would be appreciated , even links to other sites or articles that may help.

Thanks , Jim.


No..........I'm not a professional CheeseMaker , but I play one on TV.


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Offline Tiarella

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2013, 04:54:59 PM »
There's a board for dairy and Cheesemaking stuff and I think I remember a few threads of foks who have posted photos and stories of their process.  Fir fifty gallons a week I personally doubt you'd ever pay off the start up expense.  That's hardly any cheese for a commercial venture....scale might be important here.   :). Good luck.

Offline xyztal

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2013, 05:34:29 PM »
I am trying to set up a small cheesemaking facility as well (in Saskatchewan).   It's not very easy - I am still struggling with the drawing stage and making sure it fits all the requirements set up by the public health inspector.  Construction can't happen until we get the barn plan approved.   

I don't know if you need to build the facility from the ground-up (like my case) or you already have a barn and just need to add one cheesemaking room.  Equipment wise - the cost of a very small-scale pasteurizer/cheese-vat is already close to $40,000.  And then there are a few fridges, the draining table, the cheese-press (>$10,000 if you count the freight cost),  ... the 'start-up' cost (without the construction itself) can easily go up to $70,000.   You can do without pasteurizer and simply make raw-milk cheese, but then you are stuck with the 60-day rule which could hurt your initial cash-flow.  In my case, I'd love to do raw-milk cheese, but people in the Prairies seem to be quite backward with the idea of 'raw-milk' cheese ("OH......?" they said with a skeptical look)

That's just what I have found so far based on some preliminary calculations and asking around... I believe the BC dairy and Ag websites have quite a few 'budget spreadsheet samples' you can download and play around with.  Their $$$ numbers might be a bit outdated.

I have also talked to some who want to start making cheese in Sonoma County, California (met them in cheesemaking class) - their problem is actually getting milk (even though there are many high quality commercial dairies around)!!!!!  What they told me is that commercial dairies don't want to deal with many small contracts - they want to deal with just a few 'BIG ONES' and get rid of all their fluid milk that way - so you might want to see if they are willing to sell you only 50 gallon a week...

Offline Tomer1

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 02:53:53 AM »
Quote
Equipment wise - the cost of a very small-scale pasteurizer/cheese-vat is already close to $40,000
What would you consider small scale?  200L? 2000L?   
Are you required to use a plotter machine to keep track of the temp during the heat treatment for legal reasons right, if not you can just make your own vat-pasteurizer.
For cooling the heated milk get a used chest freezer, fill it with brine and pump the brine thru a SS coil or plate which will be submerged into your vat.  some kind of circulation will be needed in the vat aswell, otherwise you will be standing there doing the mixing...   the flowrate and volume of chest freezer will depend on the volume of milk your cooling.

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Offline WovenMeadows

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 07:56:03 AM »
Frank Kipe at MicroDairy Designs (www.microdairydesigns.com) has what is as far as I have found the lowest cost small-scale milk processing setup, currently in 15, 30, and 45 gallon sizes. A vat pasteurizer which can also have a chiller (for use for milk storage and/or cooling after pasteurizing), and a pump and capper for bottling milk or yogurt. And of course the vat can also be used for hard cheese.

I too am skeptical that 50 gallons a week could get you anywhere. From my own planning for our farmstead creamery, I'm finding that processing around 100,000 lbs of milk into $7 per pound cheese would be the breakeven point, after which (i.e. higher sales or more production) would start to turn a profit.  E.g. selling at an average of $10 per pound would yield $30,000 profit for the year.

100,000 lbs of milk comes out to 223 gallons per week, about 50 gallons 5 times a week. We will be producing the milk ourselves from a small herd, so my costs will probably be somewhat higher than one buying commodity milk. But I still doubt 50 gallons would be near enough profitable.


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Offline jwalker

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 09:52:49 AM »
Thanks all , you've been most helpful.

I agree that 50 gals per week wouldn't be profitable on a long term basis , what I was thinking , was setting up a facility that could process 50 gals at a time , probably only making one batch a week as I was learning the business , as my time is limited right now with my other business.

Then possibly increasing processing to 50 gals four or five times a week , I doubt I would ever want to get any larger than that (although I guess you never know) , so the 50 gals was just for vat size , facilities , etc.

I currently run a profitable business of my own and was thinking of getting into cheese making slowly . so I'm sure the start up cost would be justified eventually , any business is a gamble , but I'm sure I could make it work.

As for purchasing milk , I am lucky in that I have a friend who owns a large dairy and will sell me 50 gals at a time.

I've also been looking into some government funding , nice if you can get it , but I would still go it on my own if there's nothing available.

I am researching this from the Canadian Dairy Commission:
Matching Investment Fund
CANADIAN DAIRY COMMISSION, GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
APPLIES TO: All of Canada
Do you produce milk products or manufacture processed products made from milk? You could get up to $150,000 to develop new or improved products. Up to $25,000 can be used for consultation services, while remaining funds must be allocated to product development activities.

You should:

Be a registered Canadian company
Have a milk processing licence (dairy product manufacturers only)
Make foods, drinks or other products using milk
Provide 50% of the costs
Create a product that increases the use of milk
You are eligible for a reimbursement of up to 100% of eligible costs for the first $10,000 spent on a project. This includes:

Up to $5,000 for consultation activities
Up to $5,000 for product development activities.
I'll be starting with the Dairy Workers course through BCIT as a first step.

Thanks again for all the replies , any more input is appreciated.

Cheers! Jim.
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Offline monajani

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2013, 12:30:14 AM »
its seems a nice forum
great discussion


thanks for sharing
mona

Offline jwalker

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2013, 09:16:53 AM »
I had forgotten about this thread , thanks for reminding me , I have just finished work for the season and am getting geared up towards some more progress on this front.

Meeting with inspectors , seeking some funding , attaining license , etc.




I too am skeptical that 50 gallons a week could get you anywhere. From my own planning for our farmstead creamery, I'm finding that processing around 100,000 lbs of milk into $7 per pound cheese would be the breakeven point.

100,000 lbs of milk comes out to 223 gallons per week, about 50 gallons 5 times a week. We will be producing the milk ourselves from a small herd, so my costs will probably be somewhat higher than one buying commodity milk. But I still doubt 50 gallons would be near enough profitable.

The break even point would depend on the amount of capital invested , I am thinking in terms of a small hobby/artisan cheese business which generates a small profit that would not be a full time year round business , I generate income from my other two businesses as well , bee keeping (honey sales) , and log home restoration , both of which are very seasonal and require a lot of my time as well.

 My cheese making hopefully could be done in the winter months.

Our local cheese company currently sell their cheese at $24 per pound and up , so the profit margin may be little higher than in your area.

I'll keep you all posted if I make any headway , so far it seems the whole licensing process in Canada is geared towards big corporations or very wealthy people , but only time will tell.
No..........I'm not a professional CheeseMaker , but I play one on TV.

Offline chevre au lait

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2013, 04:13:28 PM »
I, too, am curious about the potential for cheesemaking, commercially.  My broader interest, beyond personal consumption and a useful hobby, is whether producing goats' milk and making artisan cheeses could ever become a local industry in our valley; something in addition to resource extraction and tourism.  Wouldn't it be cool for one's hamlet to become known for quality cheeses with a unique terroir

First, though, I need to know if I even have the knack for raising quality milkers and/or making cheese, and I will be happy with "farm gate" sales and a good product reputation locally, to begin with.  The very thought of all those regulations is cold water on inspiration and enthusiasm.  The scale that everything appears to be geared to, seems ridiculous; I'm looking for quality, rather than massive quantity!  I'm trusting that if my idea is a good one, those big bugs will iron out when I get to that stage.  Heck, by the time I get competent, all the regulations might be different anyhow!

Offline Tiarella

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2013, 06:10:51 AM »
There's a woman a few towns over who makes her living making simple chevre from a herd of goats.  She ships it out every day.  her milk and cheese rooms combined seem to be less than 144 square feet from what I gather from the dairy inspector who was telling me about her. 

I really LIKE your idea about your hamlet getting known for artisan cheese and it seems like there'd be cool spin-offs like great restaurants, cheese classes, farm stay tourism opportunities, etc


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Offline jwalker

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2013, 09:18:26 AM »
  Wouldn't it be cool for one's hamlet to become known for quality cheeses with a unique terroir



My town is gaining a reputation for such , we already have one company making high quality cheese here , their prduct sells in stores all over BC and Alberta so far.

This is their link    http://www.kootenayalpinecheese.com/

They had a very successful dairy to begin with and the resources that go with it , so they obviously have an advantage over smaller wanna-be's like me , but I think it is possible to do it on a smaller scale , there is a cheesemaker in the Armstrong area that buys their milk from another producer.



The red tape may wear me down before I get nearer my goal , I was hoping to make it a small retirement business , but this summer has been our busiest year ever for our other businesses , just plain old retirement is starting to look good !

I was hoping to do it alongside my honey sales , I just advertised on a local website yesterday and had the best response ever , it looks like my entire harvest will be sold by the end of today , people are really interested in my tri-color honey.
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Offline Denise

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2013, 10:25:46 AM »
A cheese for those beautiful honeys.

Offline chevre au lait

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2013, 08:46:49 PM »
Way to go with your honeys, jwalker!  If I lived closer, I'd be in line.  I'm supposing honey has the advantage of not needing to be inspected, being a "sterile", non-dangerous product?  I do farm gate eggs, under the radar, and can't keep up with demand. 

Local production is not about competing with the big guys, it's about finding a niche market for a quality product, AND maybe eventually doing a little something for a town's self-esteem--being in control of production, and sought after, with a renewable product, rather than serving as a doormat for logging, mining, etc. companies who come, take, and leave.  Fight the good fight with the red tape, and don't worry about winning or losing.

Offline steffb503

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2013, 05:36:32 AM »
I guess I fall into that category,
We produce goat cheese here in NY. I milk 16 goats, not really the best producers, but they are mine.
I could get goats that gave more milk, I could process more cheese, I could sell more but all that requires me to work harder. I am happy with this.

I sell here on the farm, at the local farmer's market, cheese shares with the farm who does CSA and a seasonal farm store.
I could do additional markets and restaurants and stores but I really do not want to work harder.

Not sure if you can say I make a living at it but I bet if I worked harder I could. It is hard for me to separate the cost of the goats from the cost of all the other critters here. We have chickens, that we loose money on, hogs that have become pets, a mini donkey that is just a pet and so on. Still we can actually make a bit of money,plus provide us with all the milk, cheese, eggs, veggies, chicken, and beef for us. and we have the advantage of having rentals here so they pay the taxes and utilities for us.

We built the cheese room and barn by ourselves no grant money.
I do all the farm work myself no employees.
I make and sell the cheese, no helpers.

I am a very small operation but that does not mean i could not expand but once again not willing to work that hard.

Offline jwalker

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Re: Artisan cheese makers ?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2013, 09:21:26 AM »
Denise , Thanks for the cheese ! , the different honey types were a surprise to me this year , I will harvest seasonally from now on , it went over big here.

Chevre , yes , honey is considered a "safe " food , so no licensing or inspections required , at least on a small scale.

Sold most of our honey yesterday and will be setting up to sell the rest at our local "Corn Crickers Picnic" here in Creston , a fall tradition.

Steff , your place sounds like my dream , so you are licensed to sell cheese in your area?

Do you work at a day job as well , or just live on the farm ?

Sounds great !
No..........I'm not a professional CheeseMaker , but I play one on TV.