Fritz Kaiser and Hector Larivée – A collaboration with refined taste
It’s in Noyan, in Montérégie, located less than three kilometres from the American border, that this famous cheese company took shape in 1981. Today, 27 washed rind, soft rind, and mixed rind cheeses make up the delight of thousands of cheese enthusiasts in Québec and elsewhere.
After having learned the basics of making cheese, Fritz Kaiser quickly noted that it would be impossible for him to start his own cheese business in his homeland of Switzerland since owning this type of company was reserved for families who had been working in the domain for generations. He immigrated to Canada in 1980, determined to launch himself in business in his new hometown.
“I had tried a thousand trades before buying my dairy farm, here in Noyan,” explains Fritz Kaiser, founder and president of the company. “There weren’t very many artisanal cheese companies in Québec at the time, except for the cheese made by the Pères Trappistes of Oka Abbey and the bénédictins monks from Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey. I undertook the first steps to start my own cheese company, but I was literally mocked at the regie.”
Despite difficult beginnings, Fritz Kaiser stayed strong and started making his first cheese which would soon make him known in the area, in all four corners of the province, and eventually well beyond the borders of Québec and Canada: raclette cheese.
Since the production of raclette cheese is seasonal, Fritz Kaiser is looking to create a new variety of cheese in order to have his factory operating all year long. From the very start of his company, one of his greatest senses of pride has come from a principle he set and that he promised he would never deviate from: making all of his cheeses in house, from the milk harvested from neighbouring dairy farms to wrapping each of his cheeses at the center of his own factory.
Not only does Fritz Kaiser produce refined and specialty cheeses with time and care, he’s also actively engaged in each step of production, from the very first to the last.
“Cheese is a living product, made from 100% pure Jersey milk,” he specifies, “No derivatives, no modified milk ingredients. Our production is purely artisanal, completely opposed to factory production that places more importance on volume. We use cow milk, goat milk, and have recently introduced buffalo milk in the creation of a new cheese.”
Despite having solid competition from some of the biggest players in the industry, like Agropur, the best seller is, and always has been, their cheese for raclette. However, it’s the now celebrated Douanier that put Fritz Kaiser Cheese on the map, after having been named Grand Champion at the Canadian cheese Grand Prix in 2004, highlights the founder.
“Throughout the years, client demand has contributed to the creation of our new cheeses, and with time, these cheeses have slowly but surely replaced many imported cheeses”, he adds with pride. “And all of our cheeses are ripened and washed on pine wood boards.”
Other than the raclette and the Douanier, the cheeses gathering the preference of the public are the Empereur, the Saint-Paulin and as of recently, the Noyan, not to forget the most recent, the Sœur Angèle.
Food safety is one of the biggest concerns for the company, which meets some of the most strict and rigorous standards in the food industry. Fritz Kaiser Cheese also applies traceability to the entire line of products allowing absolute control of recalls, if necessary.
The values put at the forefront by the founder define his company as a large family that makes and offers high quality products, that creates jobs in the area all while actively participating in the community through sponsorships for local and regional events.
The partnership with Hector Larivée is the beginning of a promising collaboration. Thanks to their distribution network serving a vast territory throughout Québec, parts of the maritime provinces, and the east of Ontario, it’s now possible to market all of the Fritz Kaiser cheeses at full production capacity.
Hector Larivée distributes 7 days of the week and offers a viable distribution that gives their clients access to a large number of fine dining restaurants, a service that an artisanal cheese company may not have the ability to achieve on its own.
“Fritz Kaiser Cheese is known, recognized, and renowned,” explains Daniel Allard, president of Fromages CDA, that oversees the marketing of a large number of artisanal cheese companies in Québec. “The introduction of new niches is essential for the success of the food industry. For several years, we have noticed a trend: people like and buy a story more than they do a product, and when you buy a cheese from here, you are encouraging a local company.”