Friday, July 1, 2016

Cheese Innovations 2016
June was Dairy Month and dairy foods, in particular cheese, put on quite the performance. There were an impressive number of truly innovative cheese products that debuted this past month, at both the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association Expo in Houston and the Summer Fancy Food Show that wrapped up this week in New York City.

Though I am a veteran attendee of the Winter Fancy Food held every January in San Francisco, this was my first Summer Fancy Food Show…and what a show it was. By all means, cheese was the star. The impressive number of new forms and flavors showcased at the show promise to further drive U.S. consumption, which peaked at 34.1 pounds per person in 2014 and is projected to reach 36.5 pounds in 2024.
Who is driving this growth? It’s the millennials. According to a recent article published by the U.S. Dairy Export Council, millennials crave specialty cheese. Traditional cheeses will always have a special bond with consumers, but cravings for cheese innovation is putting the spotlight on specialty and unique cheeses. Numerous recent industry reports show that consumers are buying more cheese, but their expectations are rising with every purchase and lifestyle decision. You can read the article HERE.

And cheese exhibitors at the Summer Fancy Food Show, which ended Tuesday, are ready to feed millennials.

The 2016 show was the largest in exhibit space since it was established in 1954. More than 2,670 exhibitors filled the halls of Javits Center in New York with the latest in specialty food and beverages from across the U.S. and 55 countries. It is the largest such marketplace in North America, with more than 47,000 specialty food professionals in the exhibit halls, which spanned the equivalent of six football fields. For more information on the show, link HERE.

At the Summer Fancy Food Show, Emmi Roth USA hosted a private editors’ event on “The Art and Science Behind the World’s Best Cheese.” The star of the tasting reception was Roth Grand Cru Surchoix, an alpine-style cheese that took home the gold this past March at the World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison, Wis.
When Roth Grand Cru Surchoix was named the 2016 World Champion Cheese, it marked the first time since 1988 that a cheese made in the U.S. received this accolade.

Roth Grand Cru Surchoix is a member of Emmi Roth USA’s flagship line of Grand Cru washed-rind alpine-style cheeses, which are hand-crafted by master cheesemakers in copper vats. Only a few wheels of Grand Cru meet the stringent requirements of the company’s cheesemakers to become Surchoix. This cheese is aged a minimum of nine months to create a firm texture and complex flavors of caramel, fruit and mushroom.

While the Summer Fancy Food Show was taking place and Dairy Month activities were wrapping up, dairy was making headlines in both consumer and academic press.

Time magazine published an article entitled “The Case for Eating Butter Just Got Stronger.” You can read it HERE.

Advances in Nutrition published “Dietary Fats and Health: Dietary Recommendations in the Context of Scientific Evidence.” You can access it HERE.

Both of these readings support what many of us have long known in the dairy industry: fat is not the enemy. The fact is, fat is back. And cheese is a winner in this movement.

Graph source: IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association.

According to data from Chicago-based IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association, retail volume cheese sales were up 2.9% for the first five months of the year, as compared to the same period last year. Natural cheese (81% volume share) continues to perform well (+5.2%), following a strong year in 2015, with whole fat cheese on trend, posting strong growth while accounting for most of cheese sales.

Here are some recent innovations that will increase consumption, as they provide new uses and new eating occasions.

Cherky is a unique shelf-stable cheese and meat snack. Developed by food industry veterans doing business as Milk Truck Cheese, Cherky is a blend of Wisconsin cheeses and artisanal meats. The first flavor in the series is Bacon JalapeƱo. Starting with a base of flavorful aged Wisconsin cheddar, the pasteurized process cheese snack is loaded with pieces of real hickory smoked bacon and a kick of jalapeƱos. The gluten-free, high-protein snack comes in single-serve 1.5-ounce sticks.

BelGioioso Cheese is rolling out numerous new items that meet consumers’ needs for individual-sized, portion-controlled snacks. The 70-calorie Fontina Snacking Cheese contains three cubes in an individual 0.75-ounce package. The packs come in 6-ounce retail bags packed 10 per case. Individual packages are printed with the BelGioioso signature snacking smile logo. In addition, the company has created a 3-ounce Mini Mascarpone cup (18 cups per case) and a 5-ounce Mini Ricotta single-serve cup (12 cups per case). The mascarpone cups are a perfect size for a healthier spread option, with each serving at nearly half the calories of butter. The ricotta cups provide an individual serving of 16 grams of protein and 60% of the Daily Value of calcium and is packaged for use as a single-serve breakfast option with fresh fruit and granola, or as a fresh, creamy dip for vegetables.

La Bottega di BelGioioso Artigiano is a new cheese that is pleasantly nutty and sweet. Artigiano is mixed in small batches and cured using proprietary, artisan methods to achieve its delicate crystalline texture. It’s available in a Classico variety as well as flavored Vino Rosso or Aged Balsamic & Cipolline Onion. The cheese comes in whole wheels for cut-and-wrap programs and pre-cut 4-ounce exact-weight hand-wrapped wedges.

There’s also a new 4-ounce cup line in three varieties: Four Cheese, Parmesan and Salad Blend. This selection of shredded, grated and shaved cheeses contains no fillers or preservatives. It’s just cheese.

Saputo Specialty Cheese is introducing Fresh Mozzarella in 8-ounce balls and 16-ounce logs. The cheese offers a clean flavor and soft, delicate texture reminiscent of the fresh mozzarella originally handmade in the Italian countryside, according to the country. With its subtle flavor and creamy texture, it enhances salads, pastas and casseroles to create unforgettable dishes.

An iconic name in the Italian cheese business made a big announcement at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show. In celebration of its 70th anniversary, Arthur Schuman Inc., has changed its name to Schuman Cheese. Arthur Schuman started the business, which was incorporated in 1946, with a passion for bringing the best cheese to the American market. The new moniker honors that heritage while celebrating the innovative culture that drives the company’s contemporary business strategy.

“Seventy years of operations brings growth and it brings change,” said Neal Schuman, Arthur’s grandson and the current CEO. “First and foremost, our new brand honors our proud history and the dedicated employees who have helped make my grandfather’s dream a reality. At the same time, it underscores our innovative and forward-thinking spirit and helps ensure we are poised to keep building on that momentum.”

Product innovation is taking a center stage in the company’s growth plans. As part of its anniversary celebration, Schuman Cheese is introducing Yellow Door Creamery, a new brand that complements Schuman’s flagship brand, Cello, by offering a platform for experimentation.

“By taking an experimental approach to a traditional category, Yellow Door Creamery leads with an off-the-beaten path and optimistic approach to cheese making,” said Allison Schuman, a fourth-generation family member with an active role in product innovation. “Yellow Door brands evoke the senses through unique formats, flavor profiles and blends. This maverick, trendsetting approach provides cheese lovers, industry influencers and home chefs with amazing, one-of-a-kind cheeses.”

A series of Hand Rubbed Fontinas are among the first Yellow Door Creamery products. The new line of semi-soft, mild and creamy cows milk cheese makes its debut in three varieties: Habanero & Lime (a citrus finish with every bite of heat), Harissa (a smoky blend of chili, cumin and caraway seed) and Tuscan (a classic blend of Italian herbs and spices). Made using fresh Wisconsin milk, expert cheesemakers use traditional methods to create Fontina cheese, according to the company. The Fontina wheels are hand rubbed with vibrant spice blends from around the globe.

Also part of the rollout are new blue cheese products under Yellow Door Creamery’s Brilliant Blue brand. Handcrafted in Wisconsin and cellar-aged for 60 days, Brilliant Blue comes in individually wrapped 2-ounce portions and 5-ounce and 1-pound deli cups as mini cubes. Perfect for sandwiches, salads, cheese plates and more, Brilliant Blue can be easily stored for later use with a shelf life of 90 days. The mini cubes are clump free and sold with a flip top lid for ease of use. The 2-ounce single-serve cubes are great for slicing and melting.

Burnett Dairy has added five new flavors to its Wood River Creamy line of Alpha’s Morning Sun Wisconsin cheeses. This mild, buttery cheese combines the flavor of cheddar with the creamy texture and meltability of a classic alpine-style cheese. The five new flavors— Applewood Smoked Sea Salt, Black Truffle, Chipotle Garlic, Espresso Brava and Mango Habanero—were designed with sophisticated shoppers  in mind. A new label across the Wood River Creamery line echoes that sophistication with hand-sketched flavor illustrations, and food and beverage pairings incorporated on the packaging.

With convenience remaining a top priority for consumers, slices, shreds, spreads and snack sticks have made up a large share of the convenient products launched during the past year and will continue into 2016. That’s why Burnett Dairy continues to grow its snacking string cheese line. Garden Veggie joins Homestyle Ranch, Hot Pepperoni Beef, Original, Pepperoni Pizza, Smoked and Zesty Teriyaki.

An Italian exhibitor at the Summer Fancy Food Show showcased its new Goji Berries cheese.

Lotito Foods used the Summer Fancy Food Show to introduce a first-of-its-kind: cheese sheets. The new Folios product line is par-baked sheets of cheese that are made from Cheddar, Jarlsberg or Parmesan all-natural cheeses. Folios are free of carbs, gluten and sugar. This innovative breakthrough offers chefs creative ways to use cheese to be molded as a topper, shell, wrap and in numerous recipes.

The patent-pending lightly baked (1.5 ounce) sheets come five to a pack and are separated by parchment paper. They can be used as is as a wrap, much like one would use a tortilla or flatbread, or they can be the cheese slice in the wrap. They can also be warmed and molded into a crispy cheese bowl. The standalone bowl can be used to serve a cold salad. Or, the cheese bowl can be served in a bowl and be used to serve hot foods, such as chili, pasta or soup. The bowl starts to melt and is consumed with its contents. Folios are an excellent source of protein and calcium.

To all U.S. subscribers of the Daily Dose of Dairy, have a fun and safe 4th of July holiday weekend. Eat lots of cheese! Entertain with cheese!

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