Zenith market analyst Louisa Sabin said that cottage cheese has progressively broadened its consumer appeal, thanks to its versatility.
She points to its combination of savory or sweet flavors, and different packaging formats, which have contributed to recent success.
Sabin told DairyReporter that among the top 10 brands in the US, for example (where much of the resurgence is coming from), store brands are leading the way, most likely benefiting from their lower price point and from the relative lack of innovation from national brands.
Top cottage cheese brands in US
The number one branded product is Daisy, followed by Breakstone’s and Knudsen, Sabin said.
“Dean’s has innovated recently with a new packaging for cottage cheese, along with other products from its portfolio, making it more convenient and stackable.”
Prairie Farms is innovating with different packaging sizes, positioning (fat free, low fat and low sodium) and different types (small and large curd), she added.
Hood is more popular when it comes to flavors, Sabin said, with variants including cucumber & dill, chives, pineapple, maple & vanilla, and honey & pear.
Friendship innovates in both packaging size, positioning (fat free, low fat) and type (California style, whipped or small curd), according to Sabin.
Axelrod also includes different types (creamed whipped and chunk style) and positioning (low fat, non-fat), while Light ‘n Lively unveiled a packaging size similar to yogurt and has positioned its products as either low fat or non-fat.
Bringing cottage cheese back
Cottage cheese has been around for a long time, and it’s possible that other, newer products on the market such as Greek yogurt and skyr have taken the reins when it comes to being the poster child for high-protein dairy.
Sabin says that to improve the profile of cottage cheese, manufacturers need to review their marketing strategy and take inspiration from their main competitors.
“Cottage cheese already has a strong nutritional profile, but most people ignore it,” she said.
“A relative absence of marketing efforts and promotional activities are the main reasons behind this lack of consumer awareness.
“To boost growth, manufacturers of cottage cheese can follow in the footsteps of their main competitor: Greek yogurt processors.
“If we take a closer look to the likes of Chobani, which propelled the Greek yogurt craze in the US, in addition to advertising its products’ nutritional benefits, the company also capitalized on storytelling and consumer engagement to develop and grow its consumer base,” Sabin explained.
Storytelling in particular resonates well, she noted, as consumers increasingly like to purchase a product with a story behind it that they can potentially relate to or find appealing.
As has occurred with other products, such as yogurt, innovation is coming to cottage cheese.
Sabin points to yogurts targeting men, dairy products reformatting to adapt to the on-the-go lifestyle, such as single-serve packs, dual-compartment packaging for snacks, or new flavors.
Pineapple and plain have been the most common cottage cheese flavors – which Sabin said is not really exciting for consumers who like to experiment or who are demanding more diversity.
But recently, she noted, cottage cheese food starts-up such as Good Culture and Smith Foods (Artisa brand) have both launched sweet and savory flavours such as Acai Chia, Sundried Tomato, and Cucumbers & Cream.
“I do think foreign and local flavors will contribute to boost cottage cheese appeal among consumers as they are exposed to diverse cultures and thus are more adventurous,” Sabin said.
Some new cottage cheese flavors spotted on the shelves:
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Cucumbers and Cream
Honey & Pear
“Innovation will play a significant part in cottage cheese processors’ success.”
While cottage cheese in the US is seeing growth, Sabin said, Poland is also a country where cottage cheese is strongly embedded in their culture.
Also, Scandinavian countries are known for their high protein diet, an advantage for cottage cheese players.
The local cottage cheese in India, paneer, is also seeing constant growth, Sabin said.
The 66-page Zenith report includes a global overview of the cottage cheese market, with commentary and insights; a study of 10 key countries to clarify the opportunity for cottage cheese; analysis of cottage cheese strengths and weaknesses; case studies on recent launches; and ideas for boosting sales and improving shelf presence.
The 2016 Global Cottage Cheese Market report looks at the position of cottage cheese with respect to yogurt and quark, and how manufacturers can capitalize on current trends.