Grande Cheese Prices

Ok, I’m seeing an awful lot of topics these last few weeks about cheese prices that are insanely low for what I’m paying for Grande.

I love their product, but I’m paying $2.78/lb and seeing you some of you paying $1+ less a pound. Am I just a sucker here? That’s (at least) $50K extra a year I’m paying for cheese! Is my distributor giving me the shaft because I’m new to the business, or is it Grande? If I switch out, who should I go with?

indie,

Your post will no doubt bring out the usual debate about Grande. We have this discussion about once per quarter. There are several forum members who will come out supporting Grande saying that nothing else comes close. I am not one of them.

Grande has tried several times over the last 10 years to get my business. They have dropped off samples as large as 20 lbs on several occasions. In our testing, we have found the product less desirable than what we use. In a delivery pizza the product is just not as good. Perhaps in a sit down place where the product reaches the table minutes after leaving the oven I would feel differently, but I don’t like the way the cheese sets up as it cools and there is no getting around cooling in delivery. (Even if your pie reaches the door at 175 degrees that is over 250 degree down from oven temp)

Regarding price; it is unconsionable. They buy milk at the same price everyone else does. Their business model is based on branding and getting a premium price for a commodity product. My hat is off to them that they get so many customers to pay the price. For my part, even if I liked it better I would not be willing to pay them a 40K per year premium. (I use about 40K lbs per year) Using standard food cost ratios, I would have to believe that I could raise my prices by $3 on a 16" pie as a result of using the product… and, as I said before, I find the product inferior for my use.

My suggestion would be to get some samples of other products and taste test serving the way you normally do. (If you are a delivery store, ask several friends over to your home and deliver pies for a blind taste test. Taste both plain cheese pies and some basic combo)

The CME price for cheese is at historic lows. It closed below $1.10 yesterday. Assuming that the prices stays in that neighborhood for a little while, that means we will be buying LMPS for about $1.25 to $1.35 by the end of this month. We are already down to $1.66 this week. My guess is that the CME price will go back up to the $1.25 - $1.45 level in the not to distant future and we will be paying $1.45 to $1.65 as that has been a long term stable price range, but in any case, Grande rarely if ever drops below the $2.00 mark.

Only you can decide if the difference is worth something to you or even if the difference is a benefit. Regardless of your conclusion, an approach using blind testing rather than hot air from a salesman may yield interesting results and possibly some savings. It will be fun no matter what.

Thanks for the info. I got this shop a few months ago and the cheese they were using was awful, looked bad and tasted bad too. And, they were paying about $.05 more per pound than the Grande I’m using now. I started trying a few different brands from my new vendor (previous one was running quite a racket), but was getting pretty bad results and turning off customers. The Grande gives me a quality product that is consistent, but if the price hasn’t changed in the last couple months, I think something is off here. Perhaps I’m being taken advantage of because I’m new to the business and they are forgetting the wonders of the internet and resources like The Think Tank.

Can anyone suggests some brands and blends for me to try out? I tried the Sam’s Club Mozz and it was ok, but inconsistent in the oven (plus it’s still sitting around $2.30/lb). Sometimes it was browning really dark or almost burning, sometimes it looked fine. I tried a couple samples from my vendor and got about the same thing. I’ve also looked at Restaurant Depot and their cheeses really aren’t any cheaper than what I’m using, so I don’t see a point in taking the risk or even picking it up myself.

Saving an extra $2K a month that I’m not spending on cheese would be a huge think for me right now while I’m just getting started. I realize that Grande is a good product that is marketed well, but I don’t believe they are the only company putting out good cheese.

Do not ever change ingredients without doing lots of blind testing with your customers…

One of our local shops has been changing things left and right and now the product they are selling is no good in my mind…I think the only thing that saves them is there are so few competitors…

The most recent change was pineapple…Went from “sweet tasting” Dole to some off brand that taste awful…Yes he lowered his food cost but also lost some sales…Sometimes the trade offs are not worth it…

What brand do you use, bodegahwy?

We tried Grande out for about three months. We never had one comment on it. I believe they have a good product, and we do use some of their other cheeses, but I just can’t justify the price difference. We use more cheese than most as well – 1lb on a 16".

I personally could really not perceive a difference either. Its in my personality to always want the best and use the best but there’s just other really good cheese out there at significant savings.

Imo, the percentage of the market that might perceive the difference is not significant.

Check out both Sorrento and Saputo cheeses; they are both extremely comparable to Grande. If you use Sysco at all, check their Arrezio brand out. The plant number on Arrezio case is the same as my Saputo so they’re coming out of the same factory - only difference is Arrezio has about 20mg less sodium per serving. I’m currently using Saputo LMWM and paid $1.45 this week (block+17 cents, two week lag.)

I’ve tried Grande cheese a couple of times when the distributor brought in free samples. Maybe it’s my unsophisticated tastebuds, but I couldn’t tell much difference between Grande and Saputo. I didn’t notice any “performance” differences either, other than I thought the Grande browned a little too quickly (a bad thing for me.)

Grande are expert marketers; we should all learn something from them. They have gotten pizzeria owners to pay almost double for one of their biggest expenses - a commodity no less. Their sales staff will tell you that yes, it’s expensive, but you can use less of it. Pure marketing genius. I still haven’t figured that one out. Is 30% of my cheese disappearing in the oven and the Grande isn’t?

Are you using whole-milk or part-skim Grande?

I have yet to figure out why there is all this HYPE about Grande cheese

There is no way its worth almost 3x as much, its just not possilbe

All mozzarella cheeses follow the cheddar block market. I had a problem once during a big drop, but my distributor had a bit too much inventory. It worked out in the end, but salespeople like to hold prices on everything as long as they can. My advice to you is do your homework and put out the best product you can…on the East Coast quality is key in most areas … no offense midwest and some ski town in Colorado you may get away with what we call “whatever” pizza. We take pizza seriously out here!

All the NYers here come down here and serve “authentic NY style” put the cheapest crap they can on it. I don’t even want to start about the canned mushrooms they use.

[ … no offense midwest and some ski town in Colorado you may get away with what we call “whatever” pizza. We take pizza seriously out here!
[/quote]

Whatever pizza? We take our pizza Very seriously here in Chicago. Offense taken.

Thanks everyone, I think I have some good brands to start sampling.

I would like to know what others are paying for their Grande so I know if it’s my vendor taking advantage of me. I’ve never been offered any type of a block + pricing structure.

What are you using now pizzapirate?

Thank you Tony - topdogpies have pulled this crap B4 about Grande, along with others that think they know it all. We might be west of the Mississippi, but, most of us producing a SUPREME QUALITY MADE FROM SCRATCH product with the freshest finest ingedients, are from the East and know what is and is not TOP QUALITY. I’m sure I willheresomeship over this one…WGAS!!!

paid 2.26 a lb and worth every penny thru roma aka vistar

arduous-

What grande product are you using?

That’s for a Grande? Which one?

$2.09 Grande Whole Milk Loaves.

Will be $2.00 Next week.

Grande Diced Cheddar Blend - East Coast, Thin Crust, Deck Ovens. You can’t top it unless you are doing your own, IMO.

PD

I honestly made that statement to joke and rattle some cages. Happy New Year and I hope we all do well in 09’.