Cheese Merchants of America (CMA), one of the largest cheese suppliers to the foodservice and retail industries in the U.S., announced a change in its cheese brands: Mama Francesca is now Cheese Merchant’s No. 1 premium brand in both retail and foodservice, and Marano Select is the company’s new foodservice blended line.

The new brand strategy also includes the elimination of the original foodservice brand: Cucina Andolina. Cheese Merchants’ executive vice president Jim Smart says the changes were part of an initiative to review the product lines, marketing, and brands.

“We celebrated our 15th anniversary last year and took a hard look on what we’ve accomplished and our strategies for long-term sustainable growth,” Smart says. “We developed the new brands to simplify the product offerings in order to better serve the changing needs of customers and the marketplace we compete in.”

In 2010, CMA moved into the retail grocery trade in a big way with the launch of Mama Francesca. Mama Francesca is a line of shakers that offer pure cheeses or shakers infused with cheese and spices. The brand’s founders’ grandmother was an avid cook, and like most traditional nonnas, was no nonsense when it came to serving the finest food. Smart says the company wanted to use her name to honor the many long-standing principals she instilled in company executives with regards to quality and striving to be the very best.

Mama Francesca brand was also the foodservice blended product line that offered operators a high-quality cheese at competitive pricing. In analyzing the brands, CMA found Mama Francesca conveyed one message in foodservice and another in retail. This new brand strategy will close out the original foodservice brand, Cucina Andolina and replace Mama Francesca as the No. 1, premium brand regardless where it is sold.

Marano Select is named for the town in Italy where nonna Francesca was born and raised. In selecting this name, CMA chose to continue to honor the heritage and tradition that was the inspiration for starting the company.

Because foodservice demands will vary depending on the application, CMA has many customers that use its Mama Francesca product to top salads and entrees, while using Marano Select to pick up the flavor in baked lasagna. This is how restaurants manage food costs, matching values based on proper product applications. Foodservice items that are high quality, but include blends that customers request, define the new Marano Select.  

In conjunction with this product consolidation, CMA is also introducing new packaging for its cheese brands. Both Mama Francesca and Marano Select will now be available in packages with fully printed bags that are more in line with the re-marketing of the brands. These changes will provide a longer shelf life and better protection for finished goods. 

“The packaging is not only stronger, we’ve also dressed up the logos so they’re more attractive and professional looking,” Smart says. “We are very pleased with the new direction of our product lines, and we feel strongly that our customers will appreciate the new look and brands, in addition to enjoying the same great flavored, consistent cheeses that they have grown accustomed to the past 15 years.”

Smart says that the new brands will be introduced Spring 2014.