Finnish dairy manufacturer Valio is launching a new low-fat sandwich cheese in Finland this month.
Called Polar 5, the cheese is said to contain only five per cent fat. While the market for low-fat cheese is growing, many consumers find the taste of low fat cheese unappealing. However Valio's research & development centre say that the Polar 5 cheese is soft, easy to slice, and tasty without a large amount of added salt.
The company said it has developed a technique to eliminate the often rubbery texture of low-fat cheeses. Light cheeses are usually matured for a very long time in order to make them softer, which also creates a specific taste and makes the cheese sticky, explained the company. In addition, they often contain a lot of salt. Polar 5 has a normal salt content - 1.4 per cent - according to Valio, and the taste is achieved using its own special starters.
It added that while the amount of protein in proportion to fat is often higher in light cheeses, which can easily make them leathery, in Polar 5 some of the protein has been trapped inside the body of the cheese, which softens the texture of the cheese like fat does.
According to ACNielsen research cited by Valio, more than 15 million kilos of light (with a maximum of 17 per cent fat) sandwich cheeses are sold in Finland annually, which accounts for more than one third of the total sandwich cheese market. The sales volume of light cheeses in the country has increased by more than 13 per cent in a year and that of Valio light cheeses by nearly 20 per cent.
Valio also makes Polar 15, the best-selling light cheese in Finland. The consumption of cheese is increasing in Finland at a rate above the EU average: Finns eat around 17.8 kilos of cheese per year.
Polar 5 and Polar 15 Emmental-type cheeses are both manufactured at Valio's Joensuu plant.