Thursday, April 20, 2017

Say Cheese! Make Dairy Foods the Star of the Supermarket

Photo source: Midwest Dairy Association

Clean-label qualities--natural, no artificial ingredients, no preservatives and no artificial colors--are showing the greatest growth among package claims, according to the 2017 NMI Health & Wellness Trends in America study. It’s the 18th edition of this annual report by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).

With careful formulation, it’s not too difficult to deliver on all these attributes when creating new dairy foods. Ingredient suppliers offer many varied solutions to keep dairy products simple, fresh and safe. The challenge often lies with the “extras” added to dairy products. This includes the confections that go into ice cream, the crunchies in yogurt and the bits, pieces and accompaniments paired with cheese in the growing snack category.

Keep products as simple and clean as possible, then work with retailers—all sizes, from big box to convenience stores--to communicate these benefits.

Looking for ideas to increase shopper engagement in the dairy aisle?

“Research tells us that consumers want a closer relationship with farmers and they want to know more about the products they buy,” says Cindy Sorensen, senior vice president-business development at the Midwest Dairy Association. “Dairy has a great story to tell and providing this type of information will meet consumer demands and contribute to a more memorable shopping experience. With a more engaging and inspirational dairy department, shoppers will slow down and ultimately add more items to the basket.”

The Midwest Dairy Association just released a new industry resource: Dairy Reimagined–A Resource Guide Book. It provides actionable, sales-driving ideas that can be implemented in store.

“We’ve organized the book into three sections ranging from ideas that are simple and easy to implement, to more complex projects that require planning,” says Sorensen.

It’s all about inspiring and informing. Talk about the wholesome, the delicious, the nutritious.
“In-store images and messaging are important components of the overall shopping experience,” she says. “The information that is shared with the customer is as important as the ‘look and feel’ of the sign itself.”

You can download the research guide HERE.

There are many opportunities to better promote cheese snack offerings. And…if you are involved in the cheese sector, or are thinking about it, now is the time to get on board with snack products.

In case you were unaware, the U.S. cheese market finished 2016 ahead of the previous year, with USDA reporting a volume increase of a whopping 3.4%. This builds on the 3% growth experienced in 2015. Though foodservice continues to be a driver of sales, the snacking trend is fueling retail cheese sales. New forms, bold flavors and convenience packaging encourages consumers to purchase more cheese through retail outlets for snack time, which for some consumers translates to all-day grazing.

Innovation is at an all-time high in the cheese snacking sector. There are products designed for specific dayparts and demographics. Look at these many variations of next-generation cheese snacks.

A recent introduction in the U.K. comes from Kerry Foods with its new GoGo’s line. Intended for adults, the line comes in three flavor combinations.

Full of Beans is roasted edamame beans and chili and lime peas, reduced-fat cheese bites and dark chocolate-covered coffee beans and pretzel sticks.

Oat-Tastic is spicy roasted corn and roasted edamame beans, reduced-fat cheese bites and fruity and seeded flapjacks.

Protein Power is soy broad beans and roasted edamame beans, reduced-fat cheese bites and chorizo bites.

Kerry Foods senior brand manager Amanda Ryan says, “With research showing that 27% of consumers are willing to pay more for snacks that have positive nutritional benefits, we wanted to ensure our products are tasty and exciting but also deliver nutritional value.

“We know that many adults are looking for tasty snacks that make them feel good about what they are eating and that’s what we reflected in our GoGo’s innovation.

“Finding a gap in the market, GoGo’s will disrupt snacking and revolutionize the dairy aisle with a range of products that allow shoppers the chance to experience interesting flavor combinations,” she says. “We are excited about launching this product and have a number of listings secured across the grocery and convenience channels.”

GoGo’s Full of Beans and Oat-Tastic come in 55-gram packs and Protein Power is available in a 70-gram pack.

Then there’s Cow Candy cheese snacks for younger taste buds. Cow Candy combines the whimsy of the candy aisle with the nutritious goodness of real cheese. The new fruit-flavored Monterey Jack cheese is packed with 15% of the Daily Value of calcium, 4 grams of protein and just 1 to 2 grams of sugar per serving. It contains no artificial ingredients.

“As a parent, it can be difficult to find a healthy, easy-to-serve snack that competes with candy,” says Cow Candy founder Danyel O’Connor. “This struggle led to the creation of Cow Candy, a high-quality cheese bursting with fruit flavor to tempt kids’ taste buds and establish healthy snacking habits.

“While the playful colors and flavor combinations may be surprising to adult palettes, we’ve seen firsthand how quickly even the pickiest little eaters gobble up this sweet/savory snack,” she says.

Cow Candy comes in Fruit Punch, Grape, Honey, Orange and Strawberry flavors.

Pine River now offers its popular cheese spreads in a clean-label formulation. The 9-ounce containers come in Garlic & Herb, Hot Habanero, Port Wine and Sharp Cheddar varieties. The formulations contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and have a 270-day refrigerated shelflife.

Cheesewich, the unique hand-held combo of cheese and salami that debuted in three years ago, is now entering the individually wrapped string cheese category.

To read more about the original fast grab-and-go snack of salami sandwiched between two slices of cheese provides, link HERE.

The new string cheeses come in display boxes for easy merchandising. Varieties are Mozzarella and Smoked Mozzarella.

Chef’s Cut Real Jerky now offers jerky and cheese snack packs. The two varieties of 1.5-ounce protein packs are: Smoked Beef Original Recipe and Cheddar Cheese and Smoked Turkey Teriyaki with Pepper Jack Cheese. The cheese is dehydrated, enabling the snack packs to be shelf stable. Gluten free and with no nitrites, the snack packs provide 16 or 17 grams of protein, respectively.


Milk Truck Cheese is growing its Cherky line with cracker-sized blocks. Cherky is a unique shelf-stable blend of flavorful aged cheddar and pieces of real hickory smoked bacon. The pasteurized process cheese snack comes in two flavors: Jalapeño Bacon & Cheddar and Smokey Bacon & Cheddar. The gluten-free, high-protein snack made its debut last year in single-serve 1.5-ounce sticks and is now available in 7-ounce blocks of 12 cracker-sized slices. The product has a year-long unopened ambient shelf life.

Président brand cheese launches three new flavors of its award-winning rondelé cheese: Thai Sweet Chili, Pineapple & Ginger, and Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper. The new flavors combine simple ingredients with high-quality milk and cream and put an emphasis on the distinct, contrasting yet complimentary tastes of the flavorful inclusions.

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