Sargento Foods could be the biggest Cheesehead in Wisconsin. The company is one of the largest cheese manufacturers in the US, offering a variety of block cheese and such value-added products as shredded cheese blends and sliced cheeses for sandwiches. Sargento Foods markets its products through supermarkets and other retail grocery stores nationwide. The manufacturer is also a leading supplier of custom cheese products to restaurants and other foodservice operators; its food ingredients division makes cheese items for other food manufacturers. The family-owned business was started in 1953 by Leonard Gentine Sr. and his business partner Joseph Sartori.
The Gentine family has controlled the company since 1965, when it bought out Sartori's stake. Today, Sargento Foods operates its business through three divisions -- consumer products, foodservice, and food ingredients -- and four facilities, all located in Wisconsin. The cheesemaker is looking to expand its primary Plymouth distribution center to meet growing demand for its shredded, snack, and specialty cheeses. The move would add some 50,000 sq. ft. to the existing 416,000-sq.-ft. distribution center.
Sargento Foods continues its effort to close the gap with industry leader Kraft Foods through new product releases designed to meet changing consumer needs. Catering to the reduced sodium push, in 2010 it introduced a line of cheeses with 25% less sodium for both cooking and snacking. Varieties include Colby-Jack slices and snack sticks, Provolone slices, string snacks, and Mild Cheddar and Mozzarella shredded cheeses. The move follows the company's launch in 2008 of a new line of toppings, Sargento Salad Finishers and Potato Finishers, that combine shredded cheese with other ingredients for topping potatoes and salads. Its foodservice operation, meanwhile, continues to develop new custom cheese products, such as appetizers and sauces.
Loyal to its home state and the sports played therein, Sargento is the official cheese of Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.
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