Survey of Cheese Industry Reveals Economic Impact of Pandemic

4 years ago Jasmine Romero 2 Minute(s) to read

DENVER, CO – In an effort to better understand the economic impact of coronavirus on the
cheese industry, the American Cheese Society (ACS) released a survey to members across the
nation titled “COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on the American Cheese Industry: Business
Operations.” Conducted in May 2020, the survey compiled data from nearly 1,000 members
including producers, distributors and buyers.

“It is important for us to understand how our members and their businesses are coping during
this pandemic, as well as how ACS and consumers can help support the industry,” said Marianne
Smukowski, board president of ACS. “The unwavering dedication that the community has had in
ensuring the safety of employees and consumers has been heartening during these uncertain

Across the industry, members are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. Their distribution channels –
often restaurants and other food services – have been decimated by the closures related to the
virus. With a reported 58 percent decrease in overall sales, many businesses do not have the
financial reserves to sustain themselves for months. Managing cash flow, obtaining financial
support, as well as managing staff adds complex challenges that have resulted in 71 percent of
survey takers applying for debt relief or financial assistance to stay afloat in this new reality.
Thirty percent have either laid off or furloughed employees, and 48 percent have reduced
employee hours.

In many cases, members are using this as an opportunity to pause and improve business
models, as well as explore new methods to package and distribute their products directly to
consumers. The survey shows that 57.5 percent have identified new distribution methods for
their products with 51 percent seeing an increase in overall e-commerce sales.

Since COVID-19 shuttered the country, ACS has provided a wealth of resources to support the 
cheese industry and has made the decision to shift its previously canceled 37th Annual
Conference & Competition to a virtual event; more details will be provided at a later date. Other
resources include weekly Fireside Chats with executive director Karen Lundquist, information on
food safety, a letter template for members to write to their local representatives, shifting
business models, financial relief, navigating home and personal life, and more.

“At the ACS, we are acting quickly to share the creative work our members are doing to sustain
their businesses and their communities,” said Lundquist. “Building awareness of the importance
of sharing local cheesemakers’ critical role in our food chain, bringing finely crafted products
from farm to table, and preserving our American artisan cheese traditions.”

Looking to the future, ACS members agree that there will be a new normal for the artisan
cheese industry. Rising to the challenge to find new ways to innovate, they hope to see a
positive impact from economic stimulus packages and community efforts on their operations.

American Cheese Society will continue its mission to support its members through developing
educational resources and safe networking opportunities to connect the community during
these difficult times. In celebration of May’s American Cheese Month, the organization asks
consumers to think small and buy locally from artisans and producers.

For American Cheese Society Resources on COVID-19 visit

Subscribe to our Mailing List

Enter your email address to join our mailing list to stay up-to-date.