But a new culture series from Chr. Hansen launching this week at the International Cheese Technology Exposition in Milwaukee, Wisc., gives manufacturers a way to deliver new flavors with premium consistency in convenient sliced, shredded and snack formats at a price with which both they and consumers can be happy, according to members of Chr. Hansen’s management team.
“Our new EASY-SET A3000 culture series is a brand new line primarily for cheddar that was developed for our customers and their consumers who are looking for a premium product at a budget friendly price point for a product they can use every day,” Kristen Katzman, product manager, food cultures and enzymes, at Chr. Hansen, told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained that cheddar is the third most widely consumed cheese in the world with manufacturers in the US producing about 4,534 million pounds of it annually, according to USDA estimates in 2014.
With so much cheddar available, many manufacturers are trying to set their versions apart from competitors by offering “artisanal and specialty” varieties that emphasize regional differences in flavors, or mixing in ingredients such as jalapenos or herbs, Katzman said.
Others are trying to standout on store shelves as better-for-you options that are lower in saturated fat or sodium or made with fewer additives, added Kirsten Kastberg Moeller, global marketing manager of food cultures and enzymes for cheese at Chr. Hansen.
These differentiations traditionally are developed over time by manufacturers that create or grow bulk starter cultures at their production plants, Moeller said.
“There is a lot of craftsmanship around the production of the cultures, and that means a lot goes into developing premium quality cheese,” she added.
That also can translated into higher product costs and higher prices that consumers don’t want to pay. It also might mean longer development lead times that can hold manufacturers back from meeting consumers’ rapidly changing tastes and desires, she added.
The advanced EASY-SET A3000, however, can give manufacturers a jumpstart and help them develop new premium products in a more time and cost efficient manner by providing a more concentrated format of bacterial culture that can be added directly to the cheese milk, Moeller explained.
She added the new culture program improves production profitability in part through its extreme phage robustness and high final product consistency, which reduces waste and loss when sliced, shredded or shaped.
Chr. Hansen’s A3000 series “is really the best of both worlds,” capturing the quality of traditional bulk starters and the cost efficiency of an easy set solution, Moeller said.
“Revolutionary” technology makes the series possible
Chr. Hansen was able to strike this balance in part thanks to its “revolutionary, breakthrough” Single Components (SICO) technology, Moeller said.
She explained the supplier created a way to carefully co-ferment up to 20 different bacterial strains so that the final culture can offer multiple functions, such as robustness, consistency, yield and flavor.
This technology gives Chr. Hansen, and its clients, a much needed edge for more easily meeting the increasingly complex demands of consumers in a timely fashion, she added.