Why should you join the American Cheese Society?
ACS is the leading organization dedicated to supporting the North American artisan and specialty cheese industry. ACS members are committed to the production, marketing, distribution, and retail of artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses and cultured dairy products. ACS is also committed to educating consumers about the sensory pleasures and consumption of these cheeses. ACS unites its members in a common goal: sharing information, providing educational programs, and creating networking opportunities that allow for the exchange of ideas and information related to the artisan and specialty cheese trade. Anyone with an interest in fine cheese is eligible for membership in the ACS, from enthusiasts to cheese professionals!
Benefits of Membership
As an ACS member, you may be eligible for the benefits below. To learn more about specific benefits offered at each level of membership, click here or see our chart of member benefits.
Attend the annual ACS Conference at a reduced registration rate
Join over 1,000 industry professionals for networking, educational sessions, and sampling of award-winning cheeses at events like Meet the Cheesemaker and the Festival of Cheese. The 31st Annual ACS Conference & Competition will be held July 29 – August 1, 2014 in Sacramento, CA.
Eligibility to apply for an ACS Conference Scholarship
If you’ve never attended the ACS Conference and you are a cheesemaker, student, or retailer, you are eligible to apply for an ACS Conference Scholarship. Full scholarship recipients receive a complimentary ACS Conference Registration, up to 4 nights’ lodging in the Conference host city, and up to $500 in travel reimbursements. Partial scholarship recipients receive a complimentary ACS Conference Registration. For more details, go to www.cheesesociety.org/conference/scholarships. Scholarship applications for the 2014 ACS Conference are due by Monday, March 31, 2014.
Free educational webinars throughout year, and access to online archive of webinars
The 2014 Winter Webinar Series will include four webinars to educate members from the comfort of their home or office. Previous year’s webinars are also available in the members-only section of the ACS website, including “Food Safety for Farmers’ Market Vendors,” “Understanding the Joint FDA/Health Canada Assessment of the Risk of Listeriosis from Soft-Ripened Cheese,” and “Surviving a Recall.”
Discounted enrollment for the ACS Certified Cheese Professional™ Exam
Join the ranks with 253 others holding the distinguished title of ACS Certified Cheese Professional™. Required qualifications to take the exam include, but are not limited to, 4,000 hours of experience, either paid or unpaid, in the cheese industry within the past 6 years. ACS members receive a $150 discount on the exam fee.
Online resources such as historical conference handouts, HACCP templates, Inspection Preparedness Plans, and Crisis Management Toolkit
Utilize ACS’s many online resources, available only to members! Previous conference session handouts from 2011 onward are archived, including “Strategic Planning for Small Businesses,” “Seasonality for Small Cheesemakers,” “Everyone Likes a Good Deal: Managing Successful Promotions,” and “Terroir Taste in Artisan Cheese: Myth or Reality.” The Inspection Preparedness Plans include information about preparing for and managing an FDA preliminary audit inspection, a regulatory inspection standard operation procedures template, and details on the Food Safety Modernization Act. The Crisis Management Toolkit includes real case studies, the basics of crisis planning, a “first 24 hours” worksheet, and messaging guidelines and templates.
Special e-membership rate of $55 to American Dairy Science Association
Join the American Dairy Science Association for 50% off the ADSA professional membership dues. Benefits of ADSA membership include electronic access to the Journal of Dairy Science®, access to Joint Annual Meeting symposia from 2003-2013, and access to searchable Joint Annual Meeting abstracts from 1998-2009.
Media Liaison/Industry Representation
ACS represents the industry through media interviews, and provides media outlets with contacts and story ideas relating to our members.
Purchase targeted ACS mailing lists and direct marketing emails
ACS members are able to promote their business to other members through the purchase of Member-2-Member Marketing Emails and Member Mailing Lists. For $250, ACS will send out an email to the full membership (or a subset of members) on your behalf. You provide the content. Alternatively, ACS can mail you a set of mailing labels to send your promotional materials to members, also for a cost of $250. Both of these services are for one-time use only.
Feature your products in the Online Marketplace
The ACS website homepage had an average of more than 4,000 unique page views per month in 2013. Gain access to this audience of cheese enthusiasts and professionals by featuring your products in our Online Marketplace. Product listings are available at the rate of $25 for one month, $50 for 3 months, $100 for 6 months, or $200 for one year. To purchase a listing, go to www.cheesesociety.org/join-the-acs-marketplace.
Coverage through ACS and American Cheese Month social media outlets
ACS promotes its members via its social media outlets. The ACS Facebook page has over 4,500 likes, while the American Cheese Month Facebook page has almost 1,200 likes. ACS also utilizes Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to reach cheese consumers and professionals around the world.
Visibility at ACS allied consumer events such as Great American Beer FestivalSM and SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience
ACS is always looking for opportunities to promote its members by sampling their cheeses and accompaniments at consumer events. The Great American Beer Festival hosts 55,000 attendees from around the world in Denver, CO each October. SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience returns to Washington, DC in 2014 to provide fine cuisine, cheese, and beer to specialty food enthusiasts. If you’d like to have your cheeses sampled by ACS at either event, please contact Rebecca Orozco at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-328-2788. Requests for cheese samples are also disseminated in the ACS CheeseBytes newsletter.
Opportunity for booth placement in ACS Pavilion at Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Shows
Make it easy for potential buyers to find your booth at the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Shows in San Francisco and New York City! The ACS Pavilion at both shows is designed as a dedicated space where buyers can locate American artisan cheesemakers and sample their products. Contact your Specialty Food Association representative and request booth placement in the ACS Pavilion before space draw; space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that the ACS Pavilion is designed for cheesemakers only; producers of other specialty foods and accompaniments may request placement in close proximity to the ACS Pavilion.
Eligibility to enter cheeses in the annual ACS Judging & Competition
ACS member-cheesemakers are eligible to enter the annual ACS Judging & Competition, the largest judging of American cheeses and cultured dairy products. The 2013 competition saw 1,794 cheeses entered, with Winnimere from Cellars at Jasper Hill (Vermont) winning Best of Show. A renowned group of Technical and Aesthetic Judges are encouraged to share written feedback about your entries, to help you improve your products.
Sample your products at Meet the Cheesemaker
On the first afternoon of the Annual ACS Conference, cheesemakers can sample their products to the 1,000+ industry professionals gathered during Meet the Cheesemaker. Only current ACS members are eligible to participate in Meet the Cheesemaker. The cost for a table ranges from $185-225. Participants are not required to register for the conference.
Promotion through ACS Member Retailer Discount Program
Gain more visibility by offering a discount to ACS members (with the presentation of an ACS membership card) through our Member Retailer Discount Program. Only ACS members are allowed to offer discounts. Participating retailers are listed with their address, phone, website, and discount offered at www.cheesesociety.org/member-discount-map.