Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cottage Cheese: The Comeback Kid

Better late than never: Happy New Year! (Sorry for the extra-long holiday break due to technical difficulties and family illnesses.)

The Daily Dose of Dairy is back…and promises to be better than ever in 2013.

You will continue to receive the latest information on new dairy foods, ingredients and technologies, and consumer trends...all delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday, in an easy-to-read format that invites you—with a simple click—to get more details. The slightly tweaked format delivers a cleaner read, and provides room for sponsorships, trade show promotions, and links to informative articles—all designed to help dairy industry members promote the fabulous products that we are passionate about.

With that said, let’s talk about cottage cheese. If you’ve been a subscriber of the Daily Dose of Dairy since it commenced in the spring of 2012, you likely read a number of my blogs talking about the rapidly increasing popularity of dairy proteins, and the opportunities this presents to revitalize the category of cottage cheese. (If you missed the articles, I encourage you to click HERE to see some recent innovations in cottage cheese, as well as scroll through blog topics HERE.)

During the Daily Dose of Dairy’s month hiatus, I managed to catch up on a lot of journal reading—mostly business. But I do believe it is equally important to be in touch with what consumers are reading. And gosh, they’ve been reading some powerful messages about cottage cheese.

On my return flight from the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, the January/February 2013 issue of Health was in my reading stack. (By the way, I have lots of great innovations to share with you from the show!) On page 34, the author cites Low-Fat Cottage Cheese 1% Milkfat as the number-one flashback food for the year.

She writes, “millennials—who were born in the 1980s and ‘90s and thus were not even alive when these [retro] foods dominated the diet world in the ‘60s and ‘70s—are driving this movement back to the basics. “They yearn for authenticity and are distrustful of gimmicks,” says Phil Lempert, food trend expert. So retro foods—which are often minimally processed, easy to eat, and so low in calories and fat they’re almost guaranteed to work—appeal to them, Lempert adds.

And cottage cheese is number-one! I predicted cottage cheese’s comeback in this blog spot.
(You can read the Health article HERE.)

Here’s another reason why I believe in cottage cheese’s comeback. After four days of nursing my 10-year old back to health (104F fever, strep throat, etc.), I kissed him goodbye at the school drop off and pulled away before his door was fully closed. I treated myself out to breakfast. In the adjoining booth at Wishbone on Lincoln—a fabulous breakfast place in Chicago—two women were discussing their healthy eating habits. Yes, I was eavesdropping. (Honestly, I was craving adult conversation after having been holed up with my sick son for so many days, but I refrained from joining in their coffee talk, as I did not want to bias their opinions.)

Protein was the focal point, with one woman saying how she is growing tired of Greek yogurt and is now eating more…yes, you guessed right…cottage cheese! (This was music to my ears and justification for expensing this breakfast as a business meal.)

Her curious friend asked how she was eating all this cottage cheese. I was very impressed by her examples, which included plain, topped with fruit and nuts, sometimes in a bowl other times atop a cracker or flat bread, mixed with diced veggies and used as a sandwich spread, and even a scoop over a bowl of pasta.

Here’s another reason why I believe cottage cheese is making a comeback. The December 2012 issue of Today’s Dietitian included a full-page ad from Daisy brand cottage cheese, along with a full-page advertorial encouraging dietitians to tell their patients and clients about the high-protein content found in cottage cheese. Recipes were provided.
I was curious to know if there has been any upturn in cottage cheese sales, so I contacted SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. According to their total U.S. multi-outlet data (supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains), cottage cheese sales reached almost $1.1 billion in 2012, but were down 1.6% from 2011.

Let’s turn this around for 2013! Promote the protein in your cottage cheese. Provide consumers recipes and serving suggestions. Make your cottage cheese more convenient with single-serve containers. Make it more flavorful with toppings, and more versatile with varied toppings--ranging from sweet fruits to savory seasonings to salty nuts. How about including some upgraded packaging such as glass jars and clear plastic parfaits? Heck, maybe go metallic.

And when you roll out your innovation, please be sure to let me know about it. 

Hope to see many of you at Dairy Forum starting on Sunday. Watch what you say at breakfast, it might show up in my blog next week!

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