Creamy, comforting and oh-so versatile, cheese is synonymous with many consumers’ favorite meals and snacks. Creative operators, retailers and manufacturers are taking the opportunity to play up the indulgent appeal of cheese across dayparts, while also emphasizing its high protein content.
On the restaurant side, cheese is commonly found in dishes with social media appeal. Cheese and charcuterie boards are growing in US restaurants, with everything from “build-your-own” options to carefully curated platters. A café in Texas even offers cheese and meat in a cone for on-the-go eaters. In Japan, innovative desserts feature layers of colorful, multi-textured ingredients—including cream cheese foams. Kakigori, or shaved ice, can be topped with strawberry, mango or matcha cheeses. Cheese also serves as an eye-catching burger or sandwich topping. An African fast-casual chain features burgers topped with indulgent ingredients such as deep-fried cheese patties—a fun format that sets this dish apart.
Cheese-forward snacks range from sweet to savory, often with a nod to nutritional value or healthful attributes. These claims can be useful for targeting various demographic groups. Snacking is the driving force for cheese category growth in Asia, with options like almond cheese bites in South Korea and thick, creamy Taiwanese cheese tea beverages introducing consumers to new flavors and formats. Cheese on its own is a common snack throughout Europe, while South American consumers enjoy sweet cheese snacks on the go—such as cottage cheese with guava, apple-cinnamon or strawberry toppings. Energy bars and snack mixes can also be great ways to bring cheese into the snacking space.
Consumers across North America believe that cheese is a good source of protein, and that sentiment is reflected in the items found on retail shelves. Roasted garlic and Gruyère, and bacon, mushroom and Swiss are some of the unique flavors that have launched in the sausage category with high-protein claims. In the UK, halloumi “burgers” serve as a meatless high-protein option with convenient preparation methods. Which brings us to another facet of the cheese trend: the plant-based revolution. Some of today’s most interesting cheese products are actually dairy free. Vegan versions of smoked Gouda, mozzarella and more can be created with nuts and legumes to meet consumer demand.
In markets where cheese consumption is just starting to emerge as a trend, chefs and manufacturers can spark trial and curiosity by introducing different types of cheese into familiar recipes. Educating consumers is the key to success!
Join Chef Alexander Tieck from our culinary center in Münster, Germany, as he prepares a mouthwatering recipe for cornflake-crusted mini bell peppers stuffed with herbed vegan cheese.
QSR/FOODSERVICE:Chefs are getting creative with global flavors and new applications, as well as plant-based cheese.
PROTEIN PROCESSORS:Consumer awareness of the protein content in cheese is growing around the globe, and brands have an opportunity to highlight that recognition even further.
SNACKING:CPG snacks are leveraging cheese in new textures and formats that are healthy, fun and convenient.
Get inspired by these on-trend concepts to create innovative offerings using Griffith Foods products. Please contact your Griffith Foods representative to learn how this trend can be customized to your product portfolio.
Herbed Chèvre Toast
Fresh chèvre is studded with chive, garlic, parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, black pepper and roasted onion, then spread on a freshly toasted baguette. It’s topped with blanched fava beans, pickled radish and pea tendrils, along with a drizzle of olive oil and finishing sprinkle of sel gris.
Queso Chihuahua Fundido
Queso Chihuahua is slowly melted over an open flame with ancho chili powder, garlic, onion, vinegar, cumin and oregano, until the top becomes crispy. The dish is served with fresh corn tortillas for dipping.
The rise of flexitarian, or semi-vegetarian, diets presents an opportunity to drive cheese consumption. As consumers look to reduce their meat intake, cheese stands out as a delicious alternative protein source. Vegan cheese and dairy are categories with tremendous growth potential in the plant-based product space. The ability of plant-based cheese to be used as both a substitute for meat and a complementary ingredient demonstrates its appeal and versatility.
Chefs Alexander Tieck and Chef Nehemiah Lim share their thoughts on the versatility and popularity of cheese in our latest podcast. They’ll discuss unique innovations and exciting non-traditional uses of cheese before diving into their predictions for the future of the trend.
Mintel, 2021 FlavorIQ® Global Trends and Insights Report, January 2021.