Sargento Foods, Inc. is a cheese manufacturing company based in Wisconsin in the U.S. The company manufactures custom made cheese for restaurants, and sliced, diced, and shredded cheese for supermarkets.
Sargento Foods, Inc. was founded by Leonard Gentine in 1949. It was his passion for cheese that inspired him to start his cheese business. In 1953, Joseph Sartori became a partner, and the two formed the Sargento Cheese Company. After conducting many experiments, the company produced a method to vacuum pack the cheese thereby increasing its shelf life. In 1958 the company becomes the first to start manufacturing shredded cheese.
In 1965, Gentine purchased the interest of Sartori, returning the company to being a single-family owned business. He also changed the way his cheese was sold in the supermarkets, suggesting the use of peg bars to place his cheeses at eye level. By 1979, the company started supplying cheese to restaurants and other food companies. Sargento also started producing cheese in various forms including sliced, diced, shredded, breaded and grated cheese.
In 1986, the packaging was revolutionized by the introduction of zippered bags. The customers embraced the idea as they could keep their cheeses fresher for longer. It also introduced cheese snacks for kids in 1988, which became a big hit among children. Three years later, reduced fat cheeses reached the market. Initially, the company produced seven new varieties. A new manufacturing plant was also built in Kiel, Wisconsin in 1993 to meet increasing demand. In 1994, cheese blends started to appear on the supermarket shelves. Over the next couple of years, more products were introduced.
By 1996, the company started adding more flavored cheeses to its product line. This included Provolone, Italian, and Mexican flavors. It also started the production of more varieties of cheese snacks. The character “Mo” was also introduced during this time. Moreover, the company made a decision to produce cheeses fortified with calcium. They also made sure that one serving of cheese contained 8 ounces of milk. In an attempt to increase the shelf life of cheeses, they came up with another innovative technology in packaging and named it ‘Slide- Rite’. In 2003, the company received a Gold medal for the Best Tasting Cheese. The medal was awarded by the American Tasting Institute. Over the next few years, Sargento focused on the introduction of new flavors.
Company headquarters: One Persnickety Place, Plymouth, WI, USA
Number of manufacturing plants: 4 (Kiel, Elkhart Lake, Plymouth, Hilbert)
Annual revenue: $100 to 500 million
Number of employees: 1,300
Demography: Natural and Organic