Slideshow: Innovating with cheese

by Donna Berry
Share This:
Search for similar articles by keyword: [Dairy], [Cheese]

CHCAGO — Per capita cheese consumption in the United States is at an all-time high at nearly 34 lbs per person. When not on center stage — think cheeseburger, macaroni and cheese and pizza — cheese works well in supporting roles in a variety of applications.

Such dairy products as cheese are very versatile and easy to use, said Millie Wilson, registered dietitian with My Fit Foods, Houston. “They can provide a significant amount of protein and fat, which aids in satiety or the sensation of feeling full. Dairy products may be used in many formats and for the most part are fairly inexpensive and readily available.

“Most of the time cheese is a fan favorite,” Ms. Wilson said. “It can add creaminess and flavor, but it also adds some nutritional value in the form of protein and calcium.”

Faye Greenberg, director of culinary for LYFE Kitchen, Chicago, a socially responsible lifestyle fast-casual brand, said, “Dairy products are attractive ingredients because they can add a unique flavor and texture to a wide variety of dishes. We are selective with how we incorporate dairy into our menu, understanding that a little goes a long way.”

Sargento Foods, Plymouth, Wis., recently sponsored a webinar on how to best incorporate natural cheese into product formulations to take the recipe from mainstream to premium status.

Such traditional favorites as cheddar and mozzarella comprise more than 50% of all natural cheese consumption, said Brenda Bell, insights manager for Sargento Foods.

“Within these two categories, there are sub-flavors to discover such as aged cheddar and smoked mozzarella,” she said.

Cooked Perfect cheese stuffed meatballs
Cooked Perfect stuffed meatballs are specially crafted for the senses. Italian-style meatballs are stuffed with a blend of cheeses designed to ooze out and flow over the plate when cut into.

Such descriptors increasingly are being used as callouts on packaged food labels to create a point of differentiation. Combined with such terms as artisan or hand-crafted, consumers find the foods to be premium and are willing to pay a premium price.

“Today’s consumers crave new taste experiences and that’s driving growth for more cheese variety,” Ms. Bell said. “Authentic Hispanic cheese, which has been growing at 2.5 times the rate of the natural cheese category, is an example of where consumers are going.”

Some authentic Hispanic types are manchego, which has a nutty flavor and great melting properties. Cotija, often referred to as the Parmesan of Mexico, is a fresh, salty and crumbly cheese that may top all types of dishes.

Even though share of the total U.S. population with Hispanic ancestry has been steadily increasing, it is non-Hispanic consumers who are embracing and driving the growth of authentic Hispanic and Mexican-blend cheeses, according to Sargento.

Then there’s the category of “other cheese.” This includes everything from Gouda to havarti to Parmesan.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Smoked Gouda and Chive chips vs. Cheddar and Sour Cream

As part of PepsiCo’s Lay’s “Flavor Swap” promotion, the company introduced smoked gouda and chive potato chips and asked consumers to vote to either save the classic cheddar and sour cream variety, or have it be replaced by the new gouda option. Cheddar won by a landslide. 

As part of PepsiCo’s Lay’s “Flavor Swap” promotion, the company introduced smoked gouda and chive potato chips and asked consumers to vote to either save the classic cheddar and sour cream variety, or have it be replaced by the new gouda option. Cheddar won by a landslide.

“Many of these cheeses have distinguishing characteristics that can help separate your products from the pack, so this is an area for product inspiration,” Ms. Bell said. “A surprising blend or a new twist on an old favorite cheese can help your product stand out from the crowd. It’s the twist on those recognizable cheeses that are in new products that have been driving category growth.”

Just adding “made with real cheese” or the provenance of a cheese, such as Wisconsin sharp white cheddar, to a product description may elevate product innovation and add a level of authenticity, Ms. Bell said.

“If you are looking to bring millennials into your franchise, premium cheeses can be part of the pathway to those consumers because they love nuanced flavors,” she said. 

Comment on this Article
We welcome your thoughtful comments. Please comply with our Community rules.

 

 


The views expressed in the comments section of Food Business News do not reflect those of Food Business News or its parent company, Sosland Publishing Co., Kansas City, Mo. Concern regarding a specific comment may be registered with the Editor by clicking the Report Abuse link.