Downey and Palumbo are also the founders and owners of Fairfield Cheese Co. and Greenwich Cheese Co. in Connecticut where they source their small batch artisanal cheese from US and European producers.
“[We] were looking for a way to enter the e-commerce space,” Downey told DairyReporter. “We wanted to create a new, separate brand but leverage our existing brand's reputation to lend credibility.”
After eight years in the brick-and-mortar retail business, Downey and Palumbo spotted a whitespace in the booming subscription box market when it came to cheese products.
“We noticed that there are lots of traditional ‘cheese of the month’ clubs out there but no one was sending true artisan, small batch cheese using the ‘subscription box’ business model that has become so popular in recent years,” Downey said.
According to a consumer insights report by Hitwise, visits to subscription service sites surged by nearly 3,000% between 2013 and 2016 with food subscription services representing the second largest chunk of the market with 30% just behind clothing with 31% share.
Cheesemonger Box will be available nationwide and subscribers will receive a box of a curated artisanal cheese for $75 per month along with background information about the cheese including its origin, style, milk type, and age.
The company’s Select Box for $95 per month includes three varieties of cheese and two other premium items such as crackers and jam to pair with the cheese.
Online ordering of the two artisanal cheese boxes will be available in September with shipments starting October 1, the company said.
Traceability and premiumization
According to Downey, Cheesemonger Box appeals to consumers who crave more premium cheese options and the "cheesemonger experience" but still want the convenience factor of a delivery service.
“Cut-to-order cheese counters in the US remain somewhat rare. Cheesemonger Box enables us to bring the cheesemonger experience to anyone in the United States,” she said.
Additionally, the outlook for the premium cheese market is bright as sales are expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5% reaching $20.7bn by 2020, according to a report by Packaged Facts.
“I think real artisan cheese production will continue to grow as consumers continue to want to know where their food comes from and how it was made, and as they increasingly move away from processed foods,” Downey added.