Dairy Foods Blog

Cheese fits with consumers’ habits

Whether snacking or dining, Americans seek foods that are minimally processed and highly nutritious.

April 1, 2013

Steve Hill is the director, R&D, for Kraft Cheese, Northfield, Ill.By Steve Hill, Kraft Foods

Today and looking to the future, consumers’ focus on health and wellness presents opportunities for cheese. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, founded by dairy farmers through the dairy checkoff program and managed by Dairy Management Inc., spotlighted the following four opportunities for cheese manufacturers.

1. Sodium. An opportunity area for manufacturers is to proactively address the challenge of the sodium content in the U.S. diet. Although most consumers are not currently seeking low- and reduced-sodium cheeses, the regulatory and public health environment does not exempt cheese from reduction efforts. As manufacturers, we need to stay in front of this challenge and work to develop proactive solutions.

2. Protein. Another key opportunity is to promote cheese’s protein content. Consumer interest in protein is a dominant trend that can help manufacturers elevate cheese’s positive nutrition story.

Did you know that more than half of consumers say they are trying to include more protein in their diets and 26% say they are actually doing so? Plus, 47% say that noting a food as “a good source of protein” is very important on product labels.

The growing flexitarian population (those who eat primarily vegetarian diets and include some meat) is seeking alternate sources of protein, which makes this a promising play for cheese manufacturers.

 3. Gluten and lactose. Catering to those looking for gluten-free and lower lactose options is an underdeveloped consumer area of interest for cheese manufacturers to consider. Many cheeses are naturally gluten-free and contain minimal amounts of lactose, but few promote it.

Additionally, the category growth for gluten-free products outpaces the actual incidence of the corresponding food allergy. This indicates that consumers find added value or quality in these types of products.

4. Real, fresh and natural. Beyond the research, evolutions in consumer behavior and preferences present strong and growing opportunities for cheese. “Minimally processed” and “a short list of ingredients” are becoming ingrained in consumers’ value sets, according to the Natural Marketing Institute. In fact, 38% of the population is in a consumer segment that considers real, fresh, natural and less-processed foods important.

With its four base ingredients, many cheeses are a perfect fit for this trend. As always, it’s recommended to consult with legal and regulatory when considering these types of claims for your product packaging and marketing.

So how do you navigate these current and future opportunities? Resources from the Innovation Center are a good place to start. Visit USDairy.com/health for more information.

Steve Hill is the director, R&D, for Kraft Cheese, Northfield, Ill. This article is based on a presentation he gave on behalf of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy at the 2012 International Cheese Technology Conference.

Dairy Foods seeks essays from dairy processors. Contact carperj@dairyfoods.com.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Velvet Ice Cream Co., Utica, Ohio

Velvet Ice Cream built its reputation on making premium products that adhere to the standard of identity for ice cream. Its lines consist of premium, all natural, churned (low-fat), no sugar added, novelties, sherbet (in cups and in push-up tubes) and a controlled ice cream brand for grocery store customers.


This photo gallery contains additional, unpublished photos of dairy processing facilities featured in Dairy Foods magazine. To view more Behind the Scenes galleries go to our archives page!

11/18/14 2:00 pm EST

Harness Your Product Inspection Program to Save Money, Ensure Quality and Drive Efficiencies

Consolidation in the dairy industry is raising the bar on innovation and driving efficiencies to ensure competitiveness. One area often overlooked is the role that the right product inspection program can play in supporting the organization’s overall business goals and protecting brand reputation. Drawing on best practices in metal detection, X-ray inspection and checkweighing, this session will cover criteria to help determine the right technologies to employ for a given product and packaging type for high-value, perishable dairy products.

Dairy Foods Magazine

dairy foods october

2014 October

A look inside 100-year-old Velvet Ice Cream; Plus we look at four cheese processors with award-winning artisan and farmstead cheeses.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Cheese Flavors

What’s your favorite flavor to eat in cheese?
View Results Poll Archive


Tharp & Young on Ice Cream: An Encyclopedic Guide to Ice Cream Science and Technology

An at once an all-inclusive guide to the meaning of hundreds of technical terms and ideas needed for ice cream manufacturing, as well as a practical introduction to the ingredients, freezing methods, flavoring, and packaging of ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurts, novelties and many other kinds of frozen desserts.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook logo 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube logo 40px 2-12-13  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13google plus

Dairy Foods Buyers Guide

cover df july 2013Resource for buyers in the dairy processing industry to find information on the leading suppliers and manufacturers.

Find Ingredients, Equipment, Distribution, R&D and More.

Start Your Search Today.