In a small town in the Netherlands, Ben and Fieke first started making cheese in an underground cellar of Ben’s parents’ farmhouse. It was here the couple learned the secrets of creating traditional Dutch cheese. They later emigrated to Cambridge and in 1984 purchased a cow farm on the outskirts of Hamilton. It’s here they decided to build a cheese processing plant.
In developing and running their business, the Meyers have proudly retained their family values. They have collected a string of awards, including Supreme Champion at the first New Zealand Cheese Awards in 1994. In 2011, Ben and Fieke’s son Miel was awarded Cheesemaker of the Year, becoming the youngest cheesemaker in the history of the competition to scoop up the prize.
As well as being suppliers to Fonterra, the Meyer farm supplies milk to the Meyer Cheese Factory, with the farm and processing businesses operated independently of each other. Their own factory now produces about 50-60 tonnes of cheese per year, and although much of the cheese is made from cow milk, four percent comes from goat milk and one percent from sheep milk.
Miel Meyer explained there is increasing demand for goat’s cheese. However, the supply of goat milk and in particular sheep milk is limited due to a short seasonal supply window. Their ability to process goat and sheep milk is also constrained by the seasonal overlap with fresh cow’s milk, and the need to process cow’s milk from their own farm during the peak period. In order to manufacture and supply bigger volumes of sheep and goat cheese, the Meyers would need goat and sheep milk supplied outside the peak bovine period.
Miel is currently on the board of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association and remains an avid supporter of other artisan cheese makers. The artisan fresh cheese market provides relatively quick cash flow compared to that of matured cheese. Miel warns that artisan cheese makers keen to enter the matured cheese market need to consider the cash flow implications associated with this. The Meyers produce cheeses with shelf-lives ranging between four months and two years.
At a market level, the Meyers have a longstanding relationship with Moore Wilson’s who have supported them for 30 years. Their produce can also be found at a range of retailers throughout New Zealand, including all the Countdown supermarkets in the North Island and a number of New World and Pak’n Save stores. They offer 13 varieties of Gouda, including two made from 100% sheep and goat milk.
You can find Meyer Gouda Cheese on Facebook or visit their website here https://meyer-cheese.co.nz/