A luxury cheese topped with native Australian green ants is expected to be available at specialty stores in the United States in the coming weeks.
Made in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia, Anthill is a soft goat cheese (chevre) topped with green ants. The quirky cheese made by Woodside Cheese Wrights was awarded a “Super Gold” at the World Cheese Awards in 2016 soon after its release but has previously only been available in Australia.
However, new technology to extend the shelf-life of the product has been implemented and the company is hoping to send the product with its next shipment to New York in about two weeks time pending final FDA approval. Sourced from Crocodile Dundee country in the Top End of Australia, green ants have been eaten by indigenous Australians for thousands of years and are becoming increasingly popular as a native food.
Head Cheese Maker and CEO Kris Lloyd described the taste of the ants, also called weaver ants, as a combination of kaffir lime and lemongrass “that give a little citrus pop almost like having a sherbet”.
The Adelaide Hills, about 30km east of the South Australian capital Adelaide, is emerging as a world renowned region for premium wine, cheese and fresh produce.
Woodside Cheese Wrights began using native Australian ingredients in their products about 15 years ago and have cheeses infused with a range of bush foods including lemon myrtle, saltbush, pepper berries and edible flowers.
Despite success within Australia, the company had not previously done a lot of exporting aside from small quantities into Singapore.
But it was the 2016 success at the World Cheese Awards in Spain that opened the door into the United States. The 25-year-old company began airfreighting cheese to the US in March and has already doubled the size of its fortnightly shipments to several hundreds kilograms at a time.
The cheeses are sold in New York, Connecticut, Michigan and California through retailers including Dean & DeLuca.
“They are loving it because it’s something that they just can’t get and it’s an opportunity for them to experience something that’s uniquely Australian,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd is hopeful the green ant cheese will be well received by Americans and drive further export growth, possibly into other markets such as the United Kingdom and Asia.
“For us to grow in the United States it will just come down to our ability to maintain the high quality of the products,” she said.
View more about the company at woodsidecheese.com.au/