Why Whole Foods Market Prioritizes the Education of Its Cheesemongers

Grocer is largest employer of Certified Cheese Professionals
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor
Whole Foods CCP training session
More than 30 Whole Foods associates did months of training and took education trips to prepare for the Certified Cheese Professionals exam.

Whole Foods Market has welcomed 32 associates to its team of Certified Cheese Professionals (CCPs). Those professionals completed the American Cheese Society’s July exam and represent two countries, 18 U.S. states and 29 of the retailer’s stores.

Whole Foods has supported the development of more than 300 team member CCPs and is the largest employer of such professionals globally. Cheesemongers who take the American Cheese Society’s exam are tested on elements of cheese production, with topic areas including storage and handling, nutrition, distribution, raw materials, the ripening and making processes, and cheese varieties.

“We are incredibly proud to welcome 32 new CCPs to our growing ranks at Whole Foods Market as we continue to champion and celebrate this program as well as all our amazing apprentice programs,” said Cathy Strange, Whole Foods’ ambassador of food culture and advisor for the retailer’s collection of apprentice programs, including CCPs, Butcher Apprentice Program and the Bakery Decorator Apprentice Program.

Continued Strange: “The American Cheese Society’s CCP designation is the crème de la crème for cheese professionals, and it’s an incredible asset not only for our team but also for our customers, who trust Whole Foods Market to offer the highest quality products and serve as a resource in specialty categories from cheese to wine and beyond.”

[Read more: "Aged Gouda Takes Top Spot in U.S. Championship Cheese Contest"]

Whole Foods CCP exam applicants take part in a comprehensive six-month training and mentorship program, including self-guided studies, weekly webinars and educational trips led by the retailer’s specialty team and cheese industry experts.

“Whole Foods Market’s core value of promoting team member growth and happiness aligns perfectly with ACS’s mission,” said Mike Koch, board chair of the American Cheese Society. “The team at Whole Foods Market has been a loyal partner of ours from the beginning, and we love that the ACS Certified Cheese Professional exam remains valuable to both their team members and customers year after year.”

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Amazon, which is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of top food and consumables retailers in North America. Both Whole Foods and Amazon were named among PG’s Retailers of the Century.

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