Started in 1987 by Sue and Bob Berry as a diversification from their sheep, beef and cropping enterprise, Whitestone has remained 100 percent family-owned and operated ever since. With its 50 plus strong workforce, the company strives to lead NZ’s specialty cheese industry in both quality and innovation, as well as championing its New World Cheese developments by exporting hero cheeses to key international markets.
Whitestone currently produces 25 cheeses in its Oamaru factory, and now the company is set to expand its product range in unexplored directions.
“We have new goat’s milk cheeses coming out next season, plus some exciting developments on the cow’s milk side,” said CEO and director Simon Berry. “We are always experimenting and presently working on a boutique range of flavoured butter, a category we see as having potential.”
Suspended between tradition and innovation, Whitestone believes in having fun with flavour and texture combinations, getting creative with premium butters and introducing interesting condiments to cheese platters. Their current range of butters are all traditionally churned on site and hand-wrapped, and the company has also been able to present to market a number of NZ’s first, including retail platter packs, cheese tins, probiotic cheese, smoked butter and beer cheese.
“We have also developed our own blue mould strain which differentiates our blue cheese from any others, to the extent that our Vintage Windsor Blue which won a Wisconsin silver medal is now sought after in Paris.”
As for its raw material, Whitestone uses local high-quality North Otago cow’s milk and South Canterbury goat’s milk, as well as developing a local fresh sheep’s milk supply.
Long-term prospects are bright. The company has a significant factory expansion underway to meet both domestic and international demand. Additionally, a recent trip to France’s cheese regions has injected fresh inspiration into the business.
“The NZ market is still young when it comes to specialty cheese and butter flavours, and it is exciting to know we have plenty of scopes to explore,” said Berry. “There are some poor-quality, imported dairy products filling our supermarket shelves that drag standards down, so one challenge we have to face is introducing consumers to our high-quality NZ products and retain their custom.”