• U.S. Cheesemakers Create Flavors for Worldly Consumers

    By Amy Foor September 14, 2017

    Hamburger - U.S. Cheese.jpgCheese is the ultimate flavor carrier. The four simple ingredients in cheese — milk, salt, starter culture (good bacteria) and rennet (an enzyme) — make the perfect landscape for countless flavor profiles. One small addition to the formulation and a new cheese is born. This creative ability is used by U.S. cheesemakers to produce more than 600 cheese varieties ranging from soft, fresh options all the way to hard, aged varieties. Food and beverage professionals worldwide are experimenting with these new cheese products to naturally meet diverse consumer tastes.

    U.S.-made cheese expanding globally

    Products featuring western trends are appearing around the world. Pizza and hamburgers are usually among the first containing cheese added to menus and featured at well-known restaurants. As a result, local consumers are becoming accustomed to the cheesy taste and are looking to merge a piece of the western cuisine with their own. In Asia, consumers are buying pizzas at the local grocery stores and adding cheese to everyday meals, such as soup, to feed their appetite for cheese taste. It is apparent that the global demand is growing with this uptick in consumption in other regions like the Middle East and Latin America too.

    Cheese exports in the United States catapulted from just more than 12,000 metric tons in 1991, to more than 287,000 metric tons in 2016. Since 2006, sales of U.S. cheese to international customers have grown more than 300%. To incorporate international consumers’ taste preferences, U.S. cheesemakers are innovating new flavor combinations. Innova Market Insights found that smoked was popular for semi-hard and hard cheese in Latin America over the last three years, and jalapeno and herbs in Asia.1 Herb flavors are the most popular for soft and semi-soft across all the regions — garlic ranks first in Australia/New Zealand and Latin America.2

    Flavor innovations driving purchases

    The care and detail involved in cheesemaking puts cheese in the craft foods category. Consumers view craft foods as higher quality, authentic and better tasting.3 In fact in the U.S., more than 50% of millennials, 45% of Gen-Xers and 40% of baby boomers associate the term “craft” with high-quality.3 Natural cheese is put in this category for its natural flavors and hand-crafted process. The new flavor combinations and elegant details cheesemakers are introducing increases cheese’s appearance and quality. Ingredients such as rubs and decorative rims give a tasty, naturally flavorful twist to meal items.

    Cheese is appearing in snack packs, menus and ready meals around the world to increase the flavor and nutrition of a wide-range of applications. For example, smoked gouda, red hot chili pepper jack, siracha gouda, sweet fire mango jack and citrus ginger BellaVitano can be found in retail stores.

    U.S. preparation in meeting worldwide creativity

    The United States is one of the top cheese suppliers in the world and manufactured 5.5 million metric tons of cheese in 2016.4 This level of production is needed to meet demand since cheese consumption is predicted to increase 75% in developed countries by 2020.4 With the capacity to provide an increasing supply, a vast array of products and an uncompromising commitment to quality, the U.S. dairy industry is in a unique position to meet the continuing increased global demand.

    The creativity of U.S. cheesemakers is one reason why cheese is seen as a high-quality, craft food item. The innovation seen within the last few years demonstrates cheese’s ability to harbor all kinds of flavors and ingredients. For product visionaries, learn more about the variety of U.S. cheeses, download the reference manual for U.S. cheese.

    1Innova Market Insights. Cheese – Semi-Hard and Hard. Sub-Category Report H2 2016. February 2017.

    2Innova Market Insights. Cheese – Soft and Semi-Soft. Sub-Category Report H2 2016. March 2017.

    3Innova Market Insights. Craft Foods Looking Beyond “Craft Beer” to The Concept of Handmade. June 2017

    4OECD-FAO / (f) Forecasted / Unit: 000 MT

    Cheese Cheesemaking craft foods cheese flavors
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