• Cheese Helping Foodservice Thrive

    By Angelique Hollister April 13, 2017

    PORFOLIO_US-CHEESE.jpgThe global appetite for cheese is expanding. Cheese consumption accounts for a reported 13% of global dairy consumption and is increasing at a rate of approximately 2% each year.1 The U.S. dairy industry is adequately prepared for this demand thanks to  its rising, year-round, milk production capacity and ever-expanding portfolio of more than 600 cheese types. As an integral part of many regional and national cuisines, U.S. cheese is key to successful offerings that meet the health and taste needs of consumers.

    What better sector to take advantage of cheeses’ popularity and the U.S. dairy supply than the foodservice and prepared foods industry?

    Unique Brunch Offerings Rise with Cheese Consumption

    We have seen quick-service restaurants (QSR) and full-service restaurants (FSR) either support all-day breakfast or offer more, out-of-the-box offerings. This is largely responsible to the changing culture of brunch. It has become a weekend tradition for younger and older generations alike, and cheese plays an important part of the originality of each dish. Traditionally, items like omelets, bagels and breakfast sandwiches incorporated cheese. Now, we are seeing more experimentation, with hash browns, waffles, croissants and crunchier breakfast items2 using more artisanal cheeses such as gouda, colby and monterey jack, to provide ethnic tastes.

    Snack or Appetizer? Mini-Meals Tout Convenience 

    Consumers eat when it fits in their schedule, no matter where they are. The line between snacks and meals has become blurred; mini-meals are served as snacks and snack foods served as meals.3 This shift in eating patterns creates mealtime fragmentation and an opportunity to craft unconventional menu items. Creative uses of regular meal items combine with small-portion, hand-held options to help restaurants meet consumers’ on-the-go needs. Items such as bite-sized snack wraps, portable cheese pairings, mozzarella sticks and cheese dips (soft-fresh cheeses), for items like pretzel bites, are just a few examples.

    Simple, Convenient Lunch Items Attract Larger Crowds

    Consumers are turning to healthier choices for a light and refreshing lunch. In response, the QSR and FSR segments now feature numerous salads, sandwiches and soups. A wide variety of U.S. cheeses (cubed or crumbled), such as monterey jack, pepper jack, provolone, smoked gouda and blue, are well-suited for salads and atop sandwiches. Ranch and blue cheese are used in dressings. Cream cheese and parmesan-based dips, like spinach and artichoke, feature fontina, pepper jack and sharp cheddar. Even comfort foods like grilled cheese4 and soups garnished or based in cheese (such as cottage cheese, ricotta, or cheddar) are making large menu appearances.

    The Experience Generation Wants Adventurous Dinners

    Consumers are spending less on durable goods and more on experiences like recreation, travel and eating out.3 Millennials, an adventurous group, are looking for meals that match their ambition for cultural experimentation. U.S. cheeses can provide this flavor as melted or crumbled on meats, stuffed in baked dishes and as sauces. Intensely-flavored cheeses, such as blue, feta, parmesan, Romano and gorgonzola, can provide zest without excess calories. But the one item that is increasing its dominance is pizza. Pizza is the single biggest use of cheese in foodservice and continued growth is expected as more gourmet options are created. Mozzarella-based pizza that incorporate intense cheeses, such as provolone, monterey jack and cheddar provide a high scale feel.  

    Download our U.S. cheese manual as a guide to which cheeses are best for each application.

    As cheese consumption increases, taste preferences intensify and dishes become more nutritious, elaborate and specific to time of day. As production of specialty cheese continues to be the U.S.’s fastest-growing and most award-winning segment, the U.S. is ready to support the foodservice and prepared foods industry as they deliver on these demands.

    1FoodBev. Cheese – Global Production and Consumption Trends. June 17, 2016. http://www.foodbev.com/news/cheese-global-production-and-consumption-trends/
    2Eustacia Huen. Forbes. 5 Top Food Trends You’ll See in 2017. November 30, 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/eustaciahuen/2016/11/30/5-food-trends-youll-see-in-2017/#4daca1a35fc1  
    3Sharon Hoeting. General Mills. Changing Food Culture Gives Rise to New Opportunities with Snacks. July 15, 2016. https://www.generalmillscf.com/blog/all/changing-food-culture
    4 Jeremy Quittner. Fortune. Why Americans Are Spending more on Experiences vs Buying Stuff. September 1, 2016. http://fortune.com/2016/09/01/selling-experiences/

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