Thursday, September 28, 2023

Curds & Cream vs. Cottage Cheese


There’s something about the words “cottage cheese” that is not inviting. Older generations remember it being served with canned cling peaches and called the “diet platter” at the corner diner. Those who worked out to Jane Fonda in the 80s know it as slang for cellulite on upper thighs. And anyone after that, just sort of does not know it. Until now. 

Cottage cheese has become the “it” dairy product of the year thanks to social media. TikTok and Instagram creators are churning cottage cheese into ice cream, combining it with pasta and topping toast with it. Should the avocado be concerned? Nope. Cottage cheese can be whipped with avocado, and wait for it…the acidity of the cultured dairy slows the oxidation of the green pitted fruit into an unappealing shade of brown. 

I’ve always been a fan and have long referred to cottage cheese as the original high-protein cultured dairy product. The time is NOW to keep the momentum going with its popularity among Gen Z and younger Millennials. But maybe it’s time for a name change or a makeover? It's time to modernize cottage cheese. 

Curds & Cream has an appealing ring to it. It does a better job of communicating the deliciousness of the product. The word cream is suggestive of a rich, neutral flavor, something that one does not experience with the other popular high-protein-cultured dairy product: Greek yogurt.    

Dairy Brand uses a contemporary package that showcases the identifiable pieces of fruit.  

Pictured at the beginning of this blog, HP Hood created a sub-brand—Medleys—and uses cottage cheese in the product descriptor. I love this! 

The new line of single-serve, flavor-packed snacks features real fruit and crunchy mix-ins. The three offerings are: Blueberry with Crunchy Oat Granola, Pineapple with Honey Roasted Almonds and Strawberry with Graham Crackers and Chocolate Chips. With the new 5-ounce dual-compartment containers, consumers simply flip, stir and go.

One serving contains 200 to 210 calories, 6 to 10 grams of fat, 12 to 13 grams of protein and 17 to 19 grams of sugar, of which 12 to 15 grams are “added sugars.” These convenient flavorful cottages cheeses join the brand’s single-serve 5.3-ounce containers of cottage cheese with blueberries, chives, peaches, pineapple or strawberries.

Curds & Cream can be blended with all types of fruits, vegetables and spices. It may be served with compotes, nuts, seeds and cereals. It could simply be flavored with something as simple as chocolate, honey or vanilla. Maybe it can be sold whipped and frozen as a high-protein ice cream. 

Dairy Farmers of America’s Kemps business is blending it into a smooth consistency, adding kid-friendly flavors and featuring popular licensed characters. Smooth Cottage Cheese Blends come in four packs of 4-ounce cups. The four varieties are Peppa Pig Strawberry Banana, PJ Masks Power Heroes Strawberry and Transformers Mixed Berry. A single-serving container has 130 calories, 4 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugars (9 grams are added sugars) and 10 grams of protein. The product contains three probiotic cultures: Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus paracasei.

It’s currently being served on the breakfast buffet in the United Club, alongside Greek yogurt. That’s right. Instead of adding a vegan yogurt-style product to the buffet, United added cottage cheese. 

Revenues are up, and that’s not just due to inflation, according to data from Circana, courtesy of Dairy Management Inc. Consumption is rising as well. Most importantly, more people are eating cottage cheese. Let’s keep that momentum going to build a base for continued growth.

Cottage cheese’s success isn’t merely a media perception. It’s real, and it’s broad based, reports the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). While nearly half of all new consumers are coming from the social-media-savvy Gen Z and Millennial sets, the other half comes from older generations, with the most growth by far coming from Gen X. That’s me!

NMPF posed the question: Why Gen X? Is it an attempt to gain a tasty dairy fix with less fat, right at the age where waistlines are more difficult to tame? Nostalgia for their childhoods in the 1970s and 1980s, the last time cottage cheese was so central to American diets? Maybe they’re just smarter than other generations? It’s all of these things, but especially the last. We know it’s delicious and nutritious. But still, a name change would be nice. 

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