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, as well as facilities in Bellingham, Washington, and North Sioux City, South Dakota.
Sargento Foods operates its business through four divisions: consumer products, food service, food ingredients. and Culinary Solutions. The cheese maker 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's Culinary Solutions unit provides meal kits to deli operators that include natural cheeses; pasta , rice or potatoes; and sauces.
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.
The Gentine family has controlled the company since 1965, when it bought out Sartori's stake. Chairman and CEO Lou Gentine has announced he will retire at the end of 2013. He will be succeeded as CEO by his son, Louie Gentine, currently the company's president and 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.