Sargento Foods may 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 food service 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.
Wisconsin-based Sargento Foods manufactures its products at four plants in Wisconsin (in Plymouth, Kiel, Hilbert, and Elkhart Lake), as well as facilities in Bellingham, Washington, and North Sioux City, South Dakota.
Sargento Foods operates its business through three divisions: consumer products, food service, and food ingredients, and culinary services.
The Consumer Products Division is a leading national packager and marketer of natural shredded, sliced, snack and specialty cheeses sold under the Sargento Foods brand.
The Food Service Division is a producer of custom cheese products that are tailor-made to the specifications of many national restaurant chains. These products include natural sliced and shredded natural cheeses and breaded appetizers.
The Food Ingredients Division is an innovator and leader in cheese-based products, sauces, frozen extruded products, premium-quality home meal solutions and custom cheese ingredients.
The privately-owned company reports annual sales in excess of $1 billion.
Sargento Foods continues its effort to close the gap with industry leader Kraft Foods Group trough new product releases designed to meet changing consumer needs. Recent innovations include a line of ultra thin slices with only 40 to 45 calories per slice. Other moves designed to cater to the health conscious include 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 company's food service operation, meanwhile, continues to develop new custom cheese products, such as specialty cheese bites for use in salads and appetizers.
Adding to its wide range of wholesome cheese snacks and expanding its snack options beyond cheese for the first time, in 2015 the company launched SARGENTO Balanced Breaks, which combine creamy bites of natural cheese, crunchy roasted nuts and sweet dried fruits created a wholesome snack.
On the infrastructure front, that year 2015 Sargento Foods moved into the construction phase for a major expansion to its existing technical center in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. It was also contemplating its third major expansion of 80,000 square feet to its existing production facility in Kiel, Wisconsin. In May 2015, Sargento Foods announced plans to close its North Sioux City plant, which makes a line of frozen sauces and beverages for a variety of quick-serve products.
Streamlining its operations, in 2015 Sargento Foods announced that it will combine its Food Service and Food Ingredients Divisions to form the new Food Service and Ingredient Division.
The Gentine family has controlled the company since 1965, when it bought out Sartori's stake. Chairman and CEO Lou Gentine retired at the end of 2014. He was succeeded as CEO by his son, Louie Gentine, a third-generation owner of Sargento Foods.
Loyal to its home state and the sports played therein, Sargento is the official cheese of Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.