Friday, April 20, 2018
Dairy Foods Trends: Contemporizing Curd
It was great to visit with so many of you, especially at the cheese auction on Wednesday evening, where many of this year’s best-of-the-best cheeses, per the World Championship Cheese Contest held in early March, were sold for hundreds of dollars per pound. While we raved and craved about aged cheddars, smoked goudas and ash-ripened bries, there were winners in other categories that did not get the recognition they deserved. One of those is cottage cheese, a category that processors continue to contemporize with new flavors and forms.
Accolades go to Best-in-Class Muuna Mango, which received a 99.05 score. Muuna is one of the newer brands in the evolving cottage cheese category. The brand launched in 2016 in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, and is expanding its footprint in 2018. Currently it can found in more than 5,000 grocery stores throughout the U.S.
Muuna now comes in eight flavored varieties that contain 120 to 130 calories, 15 grams of protein and 9 grams of sugar per 5.3-ounce cup. The fruit-on-the-bottom line made its debut in Blueberry, Mango, Peach, Pineapple and Strawberry. Earlier this year Black Cherry, Raspberry and Vanilla joined the lineup. There’s also Low-fat Plain Muuna in 5.3- and 16-ounce containers and Classic Plain in 16-ounce multi-serving containers only. All Muuna products contain no artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners. Muuna is also gluten-free and certified kosher.
“Backed by extensive research, including a deep-dive into consumer flavor demand in the yogurt category, our in-house R&D team created these new flavors,” says Gerard Meyer, CEO. “The debut of Black Cherry and Vanilla mark a first in the cottage cheese category, as consumers previously have only seen these flavors available in yogurt. Cottage cheese continues to gain popularity; plus, the on-the-go portability of our single-serve cups meets consumer demand for delicious, nutritious snack foods.”
The company continues to improve the recipe and package. Earlier this month, Muuna began adding the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis to its formulation to further set itself apart in what is starting to be a very busy cottage cheese case.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in snack and meal options that contain a variety of healthy ingredients to meet their dietary needs,” says Meyer. “By adding probiotics to Muuna’s already craveable recipe, we can offer a single product that is not only enriched with probiotics, but also high in protein, low in sugar, a good source of calcium and containing potassium.”
Congratulations to Muuna for receiving the Best in Class in Cottage Cheese. To see the other winners and entries in the category, link HERE.
There’s no doubt that cottage cheese has made a comeback. Contemporary packaging and creative flavors is turning the original high-protein cultured dairy product into a trending convenience food.
Hood is in. The company offers savory, sweet and plain cottage cheese in 5.3-ounce containers. On the savory side there’s Chive and Cucumber & Dill. Sweet offerings include Peaches and Pineapple. Protein content ranges from 13 to 18 grams, depending on variety.
Dean’s is in, too. New DairyPure Mix-Ins cottage cheese comes in four varieties. Two are simply fruit—Blueberry or Pineapple—blended with the cottage cheese. The other two are fruit with cottage cheese, along with a dome of a crunchy inclusion. The varieties are: Peaches with Pecans and Strawberries with Almonds. A single-serve 5.3-ounce cup contains 15 to 17 grams of protein.
Even retailers recognize the opportunity in cottage cheese, and many are now offering private-label options. For example, Meijer has 5-ounce containers of 2% milkfat small curd cottage cheese. The plain variety provides 15 grams of protein per container. The fruit flavors—Pineapple and Strawberry—contains 12 grams of protein.
Kraft Heinz, the forerunner in the single-serve cottage cheese category with its Breakstone’s and Knudsen Cottage Doubles lines, continues to evolve the brand. In late 2017, Honey Vanilla and Mango Habanero joined Blueberry, Peach, Pineapple and Raspberry in this dual-compartment format with cottage cheese on one side and topping on the other. With the new flavors came a pack size increase, from the former 3.9 ounces to now “20% more,” or 4.7 ounces. A single serving now delivers 9 grams of protein. Calories range from 110 to 130.
SmithFoods Inc., introduced Americans to artisan cottage cheese with the debut of Artisa in 2015. The product features a slow-cooked, delicate-curd cottage cheese made with fresh milk from locally owned and operated dairies.
The brand has evolved over the years in response to consumer feedback. The goal has always been to make cottage cheese relevant again, and the brand is succeeding. Artisa currently comes in 5.3-ounce containers in six whole milk varieties. They are: Apple Cinnamon, Classic, Peach, Pineapple, Strawberry and Wild Berry. A single-serve cup of Artisa contains 15 to 19 grams of protein and 7 to 15 grams of sugar, depending on variety. The product is all natural, with no preservatives or additives, free of artificial growth hormones and high fructose corn syrup, and is gluten-free.
Good Culture Cottage Cheese also continues to evolve and recently went through a packaging rebrand and added new varieties. Made with grass-fed milk from cows that graze freely on small sustainable family farms in Wisconsin, Good Culture Cottage Cheese contains 16 to 19 grams of naturally occurring protein per 5.3-ounce cup. New Organic Mango and Natural Peach join an array of other organic or natural-positioned flavored varieties such as Blueberry Acai Chia, Kalamata Olive, Peach, Pineapple and Strawberry. There’s also whole milk and low-fat classic.
“We wanted to create a more modern design that clearly communicated what’s inside the cup, while building a stronger emotional connection with our consumer,” says Jesse Merrill, CEO and co-founder. “Our new packaging breaks through the clutter on shelf, drives greater taste appeal, clearly communicates product benefits, and amplifies our brand personality.”
The “good” in the brand name doesn’t just refer to the cottage cheese. The company has partnered with 1% for the Planet. Each time a consumer purchases a cup of good culture, 1% of the sale goes to a global network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting the environment.
On top of mind for cottage cheese formulators is texture and mouthfeel, as the curdiness of cottage cheese is a turnoff for some consumers. One way to overcome this is to ensure the curd is soft and the dressing is super creamy and smooth. Another approach is to blend the curd.
That’s what you get with Alpina’s new No Curd Cottage Cheese. This high-protein dairy snack is made with blended 2% milkfat cottage cheese, which yields a spoonable cultured dairy product with a unique texture, one without distinguishable curds. Made with all-natural ingredients and probiotic cultures, the 5.3-ounce single-serve cup includes a spoon in the lid. The plain variety contains 25 grams of protein. It’s also available in a 16-ounce multi-serve container. There’s four blended fruit options, all delivering 21 grams of protein, 130 calories and only 4 grams of added sugars. The fruit varieties are: Blueberry, Peach, Pineapple and Strawberry.
Keep up the great work making cottage cheese relevant to today’s consumers. Keep contemporizing the curd!