In fact, Mintel reports only 298 new product introductions last year, which is 248 and 328 fewer launches since 2007 and 2008, respectively.
For instance, last year, the category experienced 207 fewer introductions of unflavored/plain cheese products since 2008 and a whopping 107 fewer new products in the other segment, Mintel data show. Other varieties, such as jalapeño pepper and chipotle, undertook nine and five fewer product launches, respectively.
On the other hand, pepper cheeses blossomed from zero to seven new products while garlic and herb- and bacon-flavored cheeses remained steady at six and three new products, respectively, according to the Mintel survey.
Despite 2009’s lackluster figures, the cheese category displays a thriving comeback in 2010 with 448 total new product launches for the year (through Oct. 27), Mintel says. Although these numbers don’t meet the surge of new products launched in 2008, the increase provides some hope that the economy is turning around and consumers are hitting up the cheese aisle.
In fact, cheese consumption would appear to be on the rise, which coupled with sales numbers, suggests that consumers are seeking out deals where possible, according to Mintel.
For example, the unflavored/plain cheese segment saw 319 new products, up 106 from last year but 101 new products shy from 2008. Meanwhile, the “other” segment jumped 22 new products to 88, garlic and herb doubled from six to 12, smoked cheese rose from two to 10, pepper soared by three to reach 10 and vegetable increased from one to three new product launches, the Mintel survey says.
New chipotle cheese products remained stable at one new product launch a year, but that’s five less than 2007 and 2008. And bacon-flavored cheeses even dropped by one new product launch since last year.
According to Mintel, “popular” cheeses are eaten most (88%), followed by American cheese (77%). Among the “popular” cheeses, Cheddar is eaten by a full 92% of respondents, followed closely by Mozzarella.
Meanwhile, fat (43%) and calorie (41%) content are top-of-mind for cheese eaters, particularly for women.
And, regardless of the flavor, price point or portability option, shoppers are still not lured into purchasing “cheap” cheese, even if it means buying into a lower price bracket, the Mintel study outlines.
Cheese as a snack has myriad competitors, ranging from salted chips to fruits and nuts and yes, even yogurt. In addition, more than half of all cheese-eating respondents buy individually wrapped cheese for snack and lunchbox purposes, the study says.
Whatever the purpose or occasion, the cheese category will continue to make a comeback thanks to an increase in new product launches.
For more about cheese, see Dairy Foods’ Annual Cheese Outlook (October 2010) and “Slicing up the Competition” in Dairy Foods’ State of the Industry report (November 2010).