Cheese is hot. But, not just any cheese—consumers crave specialty cheeses that please their palates. The largest segment of the American workforce—millennials aged 18 to 34—is also the greatest consumer of the diary delicacy. While they don’t earn the highest wages, the young consumers are willing shell out more for specialty, locally-crafted and imported cheeses, making them the first and second largest buyers. The reason for this is because they seek unique items, care about where their food comes from, and like to experiment with new flavors and textures. This is great news for those in the dairy industry, who are seeing boosts of 3 percent or more annually in specialty cheese sales. As small-scale dairies make a comeback thanks to discerning consumers, producers must turn to climate control solutions for the cheese-making to shipping stages to keep their products fresh, flavorful and safe.
Temporary Climate Control Considerations for Cheese Makers
The best cheese makers employ great climate control mechanisms that ensure quality and predictable results. One of the most important times when temperatures come into play is during the cooking and aging stages.
The cheese making process often involves introducing bacterial starter cultures, which consume the lactose in milk and produce lactic acid. To keep the bacteria alive and productive, temperatures must be right. While the temperature inside the dairy-filled pot is critical, so are the environmental conditions in the manufacturing, processing and storage, as well as the vehicles that transport the goods. Conditions that are too arid can cause cheese products to lose moisture, which affects their softness, taste and texture. Conditions that are too humid can lead to mold growth, causing financial losses. Temperatures that are too warm can also promote the growth of mold and harmful food-borne pathogens, particularly in unpasteurized products.
Many types of cheese require temperatures of 50°F to 55°F and relative humidity levels of 75 to 95 percent during the aging process, and temperatures of 35°F to 40°F while in cold storage. When in cold storage (38°F to 40°F), relative humidity levels are usually around 65 percent. The ideal temperature for cheese caves is 50°F. It is important to keep in mind that the ideal temperature and relative humidity levels depend on the style of cheese.
Ventilation is another important factor during the cheese making and storage stages. A consistent low airflow is a generally accepted standard for many artisan cheeses. However, airflow that is too high can cause a cheese to dry out or affect the development of rinds. For this reason, cheese makers turn to temporary humidity control services to simplify controlling ambient conditions.
Third-Party Logistics and Climate Control Solutions
Getting specialty cheeses into the hands of consumers safely while minimizing losses requires ensuring that storage conditions during the shipping process. Third-party logistics, or 3PL, operations that use temporary climate control solutions help make this easy for cheese makers with special vehicles and storage facilities that follow food safety best practices, such as maintaining the cold chain at 38°F. Transporting dairy products in environmentally controlled vehicles also keep products safe to eat as it travels from the producer to store shelves. 3PL providers simplify the process with operation, warehousing and transportation services that are scaled to a client’s needs.
As one of the oldest processed foods that predate recorded history, the American population’s love for cheese will last through the ages. Making sure that every stage of the process—from curdling to delivery—benefits the bottom line, you must take steps to prevent losses. Polygon creates custom climate control solutions that support all areas of a cheese making operation and extend the life of perishable goods. Talk to a temporary humidity control specialist today to learn more about the benefits of Polygon’s affordable, custom equipment for your operations.