Frequently Asked Questions

About Mainland

What’s so great about the Mainland brand?

Mainland is the #1 cheese brand across New Zealand & Australia. Our tagline is “Good Things Take Time” referring to the high quality that comes from our maturation process.


Is Mainland Cheese made in New Zealand?

Yes – the cheese’s origin is New Zealand.


What makes New Zealand Cheese different?

The mild, rainy climate in New Zealand results in an abundance of high quality grass. Our cows enjoy the benefits of a country where grazing outdoors is possible all year round.


How is Grass-Fed Cheese Different?

Color: beta-carotene in the grass gives the cheese a golden yellow color. White colored cheese is typically a sign that the cows have been grain fed. Taste: the grass gives the cheese a sweeter, creamier note. Health Benefits: higher CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid), higher in in omega 3 & 6 and Vitamins A, D, E, K & K2.


What is “Egmont” cheese?

Egmont is a unique cheddar variety that is similar to a Gouda Cheese – best described as a Gouda & Cheddar hybrid. Its flavor profile isn’t as sharp as a regular cheddar which allows the sweeter, nutty gouda flavors to come through on the palate. Its unique flavor profile makes it stand out on a cheese board & its high moisture content is great for cooking – it has an amazing melt.

The word Egmont refers to Mount Egmont, the famous mountain in New Zealand. The production facility that makes Egmont cheese is located at the base of Mount Egmont.


Descriptions of the cheeses and how they differ

Mainland Sharp Cheddar: a semi-hard mature cheddar with a rich sharp flavor. It is naturally aged for 12 months to develop its distinct cheddar flavor and smooth texture. Mainland Sharp Cheddar Cheeses is a versatile cheese that is idea for any occasion.
Flavor: rich and sharp

Mainland Vintage Cheddar: a mature, full-flavored, slightly crumbly cheese marbled with naturally occurring salt crystals. Hand selected by Mainland’s Cheddar Masters and set aside to naturally age for two years, the strong piquant flavor and creamy finish can only be achieved with the finest of Cheddars.
Flavor: strong cheddar flavor

Mainland Organic Cheddar: the youngest semi-hard cheese of the Mainland cheddar family and has been naturally aged for up to 6 months to develop a lovely soft smooth texture and subtle flavor. Mainland’s Organic Cheddar Cheese is made from USDA-certified full flavored farm fresh organic milk and meets every known organic regulatory standard in the world
Flavor: Mild and Subtle

Mainland Egmont: a unique cheddar variety that is similar to a Gouda Cheese- best described as a Gouda & Cheddar hybrid. Its flavor profile is not as sharp as a regular cheddar, which allows the sweeter, nutty Gouda flavors to come through on the palate. Perfect for cooking and baking. Egmont has a delicious cheddar flavor with an excellent melt- the number one choice for your favorite cheesy dishes.
Flavor: Nutty


Where can I find out what stores near me carry Mainland Cheese?

You can visit our Store Locator and enter your zip code.


Who owns Mainland Cheese?

Mainland Cheese is owned by Fonterra.



Does Fonterra produce any other dairy products?

Fonterra produces numerous dairy products that are sold across the globe. In the US, in addition to cheese, Fonterra sells grass-fed Anchor Butter. Our butter is made from the same grass-fed cow’s milk as our cheese, so it has the same nutritional properties and yellow appearance. You can find out more about our butter here.



Cheese Creation

Is Mainland Cheese grass-fed?

Yes – our cows have access to pasture year round.


What type of cow’s milk is used for making the cheese?

The cows that produce milk come from a variety of breeds. Thus, we use different types of cow’s milk for the cheese.


Is the milk pasteurized before being used in cheese making?

All milk used in cheese making is pasteurised. Pasteurising heats the milk to 72°C and holds it at this temperature for 15 seconds. During pasteurisation all harmful bacteria are destroyed. The milk is also subjected to a number of other strict tests and quality controls to ensure its purity for use in cheese.


Is the milk homogenized?

Yes – all the milk we use is homogenized.


What type of rennent does Mainland use?

Most of the rennets we use are microbial. However, we do use a few calf rennents.


Are there enzymes used to make cheese?

Yes – we do use enzymes to make the cheese.


Are the enzymes used to make Mainland Cheese animal or vegetarian?

Most of the enzymes we use to make our cheese are vegetarian. However, we do use a couple enzymes that are derived from animals.


What is Whey?

Whey is the water component of milk. It contains small amounts of salts, fat and proteins and is highly nutritious. Its components are used in whey butter and in the making of many other products such as baking ingredients, some medicines, animal feed, fertilizers etc.


What is rennet?

Rennet is an enzyme that causes milk to coagulate, changing it from a liquid to a junket-like solid (curd). Today there are three sources of enzymes that will bring about the coagulation of milk:

Natural calf rennet: The traditional source, used commercially for the past hundred years, is the stomach of a very young calf.

Microbial rennet: In the 1960s the demand from cheese makers for coagulant outstripped the availability of calf rennet and a new source was found – an enzyme secreted by a fungus. Because this is not sourced from an animal, it means the cheese can be classified as suitable for vegetarians.

Genetically engineered rennet: The newest source of rennet is a result of genetic engineering and has been available commercially for about five years. The genetic code for calf rennet is inserted into the DNA of a microbe and the microbe is then allowed to multiply in a fermenter. The microbe produces the same enzyme that would be produced in the stomach of a calf. Again because this enzyme is not produced by an animal it can be used to produce cheese suitable for vegetarians.


What is a cheese starter?

A cheese starter is a mix of bacteria such as streptococcus lactis which is added to the milk to convert its lactose into lactic acid. The acid enhances the coagulation step as well as acting as a preservative to prevent the growth of undesirable bacteria.


What is the rind on the cheese?

The rind is a coating that protects the interior of the cheese as it ripens. It may develop naturally as with Raclette, or it may be an artificial rind like the wax on Pyrenees.


Does the rind have anything to do with the flavor?

Yes – for example, surface ripened cheeses like Brie and Camembert take on the added flavor and interest of their white mold rinds. Smear ripened cheeses like Raclette tend to be very aromatic.


Why is there salt in the cheese?

Salt is necessary for three main reasons. It acts as a preservative, enhances the flavor and is important in helping to remove moisture from the cheese during the last stage of manufacture. It also assists in firming up protein in the cheese. Most cheese types require salt. Some cheeses have low salt levels (e.g. Emmental at 0.5 per cent is one of the lowest). Other cheeses like Parmesan or Blue cheese have a salt level of 2-3 per cent. Cheddar, Edam and Gouda have a salt content of approximately 1.6-1.8 per cent.


What are the tiny white crystals on the surface of a cheese

Small tiny white crystals on the surface of a cheese (like those on our Mainland Vintage Cheddar) are considered a sign of quality matured cheese. These crystals are calcium lactate and are found more commonly in hard cheeses that have matured for a long period of time. These crystals are formed when the cheese loses or pushes out moisture as it ages. This causes the calcium lactate to become more concentrated, thus forming crystals. There are no health risks associated with eating the crystals – they are completely natural!


Allergens and Dietary Restrictions

Is Mainland Cheese lactose free?

No – our cheese is not lactose free.


Is Mainland Cheese gluten free?

There is not any gluten present in the formulation of our cheese or in the production facility. However, our cheese has not had tests done to be certifiably gluten free.


Is Mainland Cheese soy free?

Yes – there is not any soy in the formulation of our cheese.


Is Mainland Cheese rBST free?

Yes – New Zealand does not allow the use of growth hormones (rBST). Our cows are not treated with Growth Hormones.


Is Mainland Cheese antibiotic free?

New Zealand has strict controls around the use of antibiotics on farms, including with-holding times.


Is Mainland Cheese pesticide free?

New Zealand has strict controls around the use of pesticides on farms, including with-holding times.


Is Mainland Cheese GMO free?

GMO feed is strictly regulated in New Zealand. There are currently no genetically modified commercial crops in New Zealand, and no fresh produce or meat sold that has been genetically modified. Imported food and ingredients derived from GMOs must be approved by a food safety authority and those that are approved for use must be clearly labelled on food packaging.


Is Mainland Cheese organic?

Every step in the production process of our raw materials is closely monitored to guarantee that our milk is crafted to strict guidelines of New Zealand (Natural Organic Association New Zealand) standards. However, not all of our cheese is certified USDA organic, but we do have an organic Cheddar Cheese that is sold in the US.


Is Mainland Cheese kosher?

Mainland cheese is not certified kosher.


Is Mainland Cheese halal?

Yes – our cheese is halal.


What allergens are present in the production facility?

The only allergen present in our production facility is dairy.


Storage and Various Tips

Can you freeze cheese?

Cheese can be frozen to extend its life, but freezing may alter the taste and texture of the cheese. All frozen cheese should be thawed in the refrigerator and not at room temperature.


What is the difference between ‘Best By’, ‘Use By’ and ‘Sell By’ dates?

Please visit Cheese Storage Tips for more information.


How do I store my cheese?

Generally, hard (e.g. parmesan), semi-hard (e.g. cheddar) and semi-soft cheeses (e.g. fontina) should be stored in the refrigerator. Cheeses should be wrapped in cling wrap or another method that keeps air out. Additionally, do not store cheese with other strong-smelling foods. As a cheese breathes it will absorb other aromas and may spoil.

For more specific directions, visit: Cheese Storage Tips


How long can I keep my cheese?

The shelf life of cheese varies from one type to another. Generally, the softer the cheese, the shorter the shelf life. For example, Parmesan block is a very hard cheese and, if properly stored, can last for years; while Ricotta is quite soft and has a short shelf life.


Tips on mold

Mold spores travel by air. Therefore, avoid mold by storing cheeses in a refrigerator in cling wrap or another method that keeps air out. In addition, keep cheese that should be moldy (e.g. blue cheese or white mold cheese) away from cheese that should not be moldy (e.g. parmesan or cheddar).

If the cheese has unintentional mold, it is possible to salvage the cheese by cutting or scraping away the unwanted surface mold. However, if the mold has spread to the interior of the cheese or does not appear normal, you should throw it away. If you are not sure if the cheese is still good, throw it away because it is better to air on the safe side.


Tips on how to cook cheese

Please visit Cooking Tips for more information.


Tips on what wine to pair it with

The Cheddars: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Nior, Sauvingnon Blanc, Syrah/Shiras

Egmont: Merlot, Pinot Nior, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blaufranksich, Riesling, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, Zweigelt, Sparkling Wine



*If you have more questions, feel free to Contact Us