Chocolate cheese lifts Fonterra in Asia
has the firm planning to expand the product across Asia in an
attempt to "re-define cheese".
Fonterra, the New Zealand dairy co-operative, said its Chesdale chocolate cheese slices had grabbed 10 per cent of Taiwan's entire cheese market six months after being launched.
Taiwanese consumers have munched through more than three million slices, earning Fonterra more than $1m.
New Zealand is the largest supplier of dairy products to Taiwan and had a 36 per cent share of the market in 2003. Dairy consumption is rising, but remains low by Western European standards.
Richard Tay, category development manager at Fonterra, said chocolate cheese and innovations like it were "helping to re-define the concept of cheese for consumers in Asia".
The group is currently rolling out chocolate cheese slices in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and has already had early success in Singapore.
"Chesdale chocolate cheese slices are favoured by parents of young children as they offer protein and calcium with less sugar than other similar products in the spreads category," said Achyut Reddy, manager of Fonterra Brands Singapore.
She said the company's next move in Singapore would be launching chocolate cheese pancakes with local firm Jolibean, to try and reach more traditional households.
Fonterra also plans to launch Chesdale Crunch - a cheese and cracker snack - in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia before the end of the month.
"Our research shows that cheese is increasingly being viewed as a healthy and nutritional food item," said development manager Tay.
"We want to build on this increasing awareness by introducing a range of new cheese products, which cater to Asian palates while still providing all the dairy protein goodness and nutrition."
Fonterra's chocolate cheese success caps a good few weeks for the group in Asia. The co-operative has just paid €91.4m for a 43 per cent stake in Shijiazhuang San Lu, one of China's biggest dairy processors.
The deal, if passed by Chinese competition authorities, will give Fonterra access to San Lu's extensive distribution network, covering more than 600 cities in one of the world's most promising dairy markets - although China still has the lowest per capita milk consumption in the world.