Dairy Crest, the UK's biggest dairy processor, has announced the launch of its first brand dedicated solely to blended cheese.
The brand, called Over the Moon, will initially include what the firm describes as traditional combinations such as Wensleydale and cranberry, white stilton and apricot and double Gloucestor with chive and onion, as well as a white stilton with lemon variety.
Richard Tolley, Dairy Crest's marketing manager, said the category for blended cheese was growing rapidly in the UK.
The move follows hot on the heels of rival processor Arla UK, subsidiary of Scandinavia's Arla Foods, which announced earlier this month it would launch a new range of Rosenborg Danish Blue cheese with cranberry.
Mick Evans, Rosenborg brand manager, said he hoped the cranberry version would broaden the product's appeal to women.
Both companies' announcements show how blended cheese can play an important role in adding value to Britain's dairy market, by adding something extra to existing cheese varieties and helping brands in the fight against private label.
A report on Britain's £1.89bn cheese market by research group Mintel last year said brand presence was mixed, although private label made up 60 per cent of the crucial cheddar category. Cheddar controls more than half the UK cheese market.
However, brands have begun to battle back. Branded cheese sales rose 11 per cent between 2003 and 2004, according to the Milk Development Council, and Dairy Crest itself has managed increase sales of its Cathedral City cheddar brand by 40 per cent since 2002.
Dairy Crest's new Over the Moon brand may now benefit from what Mintel called a shift in market categories, with manufacturers dividing products into "everyday value" and "discovery", instead of traditional segmentation based on product recipe and place of origin.
The development of discovery as an individual market segment plays into the hands of new varieties, like new sorts of blended cheese.
Over the Moon's use of territorial cheese may also help. Mintel said territorial cheese as a category still only laid claim to about 10 per cent of Britain's cheese market in 2004, but had grown by 28 per cent in value since 2000 and was expected to continue growing strongly.