Established in 2010 by Massimo Lubisco, Massimo’s Italian Cheeses manufactures award-winning dairy products like mozzarella and ricotta, which are handmade using locally-sourced cows’ milk, following a traditional Italian recipe. Since its inception, the brand has scooped a total of 34 accolades among gold, silver and bronze medals.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“Our company began operating in late 2010. Before coming to New Zealand I wasn’t a cheesemaker, but six years ago I decided to leave my country and start a brand-new life here. So, while still in Italy, I learned how to make cheese, bought all the machinery and tools and finally moved to Auckland in July 2010. Then I became involved with farmers’ markets and, not long afterwards, when the first medals started pouring in, I began supplying Foodstuffs’ supermarkets. It was 2013. Today, our products are available at the majority of New World and Pak’nSave stores across New Zealand, including the South Island.”
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“I craft my mozzarella with organic milk following a traditional recipe from the Southern region of Puglia, which is where I come from. There are different methods to knead the cheese, but I have chosen the one New Zealanders liked the most. In Italy, we call it ‘pasta filata’, literally ‘spun paste’, because the cheese undergoes a unique stretching process. Our most popular product is mozzarella cheese, either prepared with cow’s milk and buffalo’s milk, and coming in different formats: 125 g (mozzarella), 25 g (bocconcini) and 9 g (ciliegine). We also sell our burrata cheese, which is made with a particular recipe, filling a hot mozzarella dough with ‘stracciatella’ (a combination of mozzarella strips and cream) and sealing it with cold water. Our range includes products that are not available in supermarkets yet, like ricotta, scamorza affumicata (smoked ricotta), provolone, robiola, cacioricotta and ricotta salata (salty ricotta).”
Has there been any recent company news?
“A new cheesemaker has just arrived from Italy, so we aim to increase production. Our ricotta cheese will soon hit supermarket shelves.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward? Is there any expansion on the horizon?
“We plan to expand our cheese factory. In the meantime, the brand has been receiving attention from overseas markets, and we are starting to look into export opportunities.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
“We are close to achieving our goal of being available everywhere across New Zealand. Over the last year, we particularly focused on the South Island and, despite high shipping costs, our efforts have been quite successful.”