by Phil Yacuboski
A group of upstate New York farmers is offering new choices on the shelves of Northeast Pennsylvania grocery stores.
“We set this creamery and cheese operation about four to five years ago, and we thought it was important to bring that story of local sustainability to the marketplace,” said Chris Noble, a seventh-generation farmer at Noblehurst Farms in western New York, who recently launched Craigs Creamery. Founded by eight local farms in Pavillion, NY, the group is now selling their cheese brand throughout Northeast Pennsylvania.
The products are available in several other states including Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The cheeses currently offered are Swiss, mozzarella, mild, sharp and medium Cheddar and Muenster. They come in slices and shreds.
“People like the idea of supporting the local farm,” Noble said, adding that the consumer’s shift in going local is powering businesses such as Craigs Creamery. “Especially the farm-to-table type of brand.”
Farm-to-table is becoming a popular concept with many restaurants and consumers with both using locally sourced products from smaller producers of agricultural products.
Noble said his family farm worked with a number of the farms involved in the co-op through Dairy Farms of America. All of the cheese is made on the farm. He said the farms are powered by with biofuel – animal waste and food scraps that are turned into electricity. He said with the investment in such equipment and machinery, it’s a long-term. It’s the only on-site creamery that is powered by such technology. Twenty million pounds of waste and food scraps have been used to power the creamery.
“We thought we could consolidate some of the operations and offer something different to the marketplace,” he said. “We got together and put together a regional presence to bring that cheese brand to stores.”
Noble said the history of cheese brands in the United States is such that you can produce “a lot” of cheese and the product isn’t that great, or you can do it on the hand-crafted level, which is what Craigs Creamery aims to accomplish.
“We want to bring that high-quality to more consumers,” he said.
Noble said you can find Craigs Creamery products in four Shop-Rite and Giant locations in Northeast Pennsylvania areas including Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston and Mount Pocono, with 900 locations throughout the northeast. They are also working with Wegmans Supermarkets in western New York and hope to be in more stores soon.
“There will be more locations to come,” he said.
Noble acknowledged that oftentimes a challenge is a potential customer not knowing what product tastes like. He said this summer, they hope to put together some sampling events where customers can try the cheese in-store.
“It has a more premium price point to it, but I think because of the taste and the quality, consumers really like it,” said Noble. “People like to know where their food comes from and our product does just that.”