According to presentations at both shows, the ice cream and cheese categories are thriving thanks to innovative new offerings and uses. With ice cream, culinary-inspired creations have made this frozen dessert category one of the top-10 trends in U.S. restaurants for 2016. With cheese, advanced technologies are enabling new forms and flavors of cheese, as well as new uses.
My favorite mainstream media headliner this week came from Bloomberg in an article addressing how Taco Bell’s sales are growing five times faster than those of sibling company Pizza Hut, thanks in part to a new strategy focused on catering to Americans’ love of cheese. One such example is the company’s highly successful Quesalupa, which is the result of more than two-years of careful research and testing. It was specifically designed to cash in on an uptick in dairy-product consumption among U.S. consumers.
That’s right! We are digging dairy and we are really loving cheese.
Just last month, Little Caesars Pizza introduced limited-time Stuffed Crust DEEP!DEEP! Dish pizza. The new concept is an eight-corner deep dish pizza topped with cheese and pepperoni and surrounded by a unique, crunchy crust that is loaded with even more gooey, melted cheese. The new pizza boasts 75% more cheese than the regular DEEP!DEEP! Dish.
According to data from Chicago-based IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association, retail volume sales of cheese were up nearly 4% during the first two months of the year. String cheese, the most common snacking cheese form, represents a little more than 5% of retail volume sales and is up 7.4%.
With consumers seeking cleaner labels and minimal ingredients, cheese is well poised to deliver more than its inherent protein and calcium. For example, careful formulation allows for cheese with higher protein content.
Why not fortify cheese milk with vitamin D just like we fortify fluid milk? There is a strong parallel between the decline of milk consumption and widespread vitamin D and calcium deficiencies. Most consumers assume vitamin D is already in their cheese and it’s time for us to deliver a solution. After all, vitamin D is a nutrient of concern and cheese can deliver it.
Adding probiotics is another option, as is making cheese with milk naturally higher in omega-3 fatty acids. Why not enhance snacking cheese with other better-for-you functional ingredients?
The consumer is ready for something new in cheese. Check out this VIDEO about opportunities in cheese innovation.
Source: IRI, provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association
Here are some recent innovations.
At only 70 calories, each Apollo’s Gift 100% Lactose Free Mozzarella Snack Stick gives you 6 grams of protein and 15% of your daily required calcium. And to top it off, Apollo’s Gift cheeses are loaded with beneficial probiotics.
Marin Foods in Hong Kong offers bite-sized pieces of cheese in flavors such as almond and black pepper. Called cheese candy, such a product is an ideal delivery vehicle for vitamin and mineral fortification. The same is true for the U.K. product Mexicana Hot Shots, which are cubes of spicy hot cheese that come in a resealable container.
Kraft is building on its Stacked Cheese & Meat snacks that debuted a few years ago in single-serve 1.6-ounce bars in varieties such as Cheddar Jack and Bacon, Cheddar Pepperoni and Jalapeno, and White Cheddar Salami and Black Pepper. The snacks now come in five-pack bags.
There’s also new Big Cheese Snack bars in varieties such as Colby & Monterey Jack, Mild Cheddar and Pepper Jack. Because such bars are designed to substitute for granola bar-type snacks, they should also come loaded with extra nutrition.
There’s infinite opportunity to develop cheeses that speak to the needs of today’s nutrition-savvy, on-the-go, flavor-craving consumer. Cheese marketers must embrace the changing needs of the marketplace and give consumers what they want. That would be more cheese, with a dose of health and wellness.