Regional US dairy brand HP Hood has been manufacturing dairy products in New England for more than 170 years. For much of that time, it’s included cottage cheese offerings in the lineup.
Cottage cheese has long been a polarizing food, often eaten plain and with breakfast. The fermented, soft cheese is made from curds of pasteurized milk, and is naturally high in protein and low in sugar and carbs.
Similar to yogurt, Greek or otherwise, plain cottage cheese is not as popular as those with flavors and mix-ins. Hood considers its plain cottage cheese options crucial to the line, especially for cooking.
Embracing new snacking occasions
Lynne Bohan, VP at Hood, told DairyReporter, “The cottage cheese category is going through a renaissance period right now, but we don’t consider it a trend. We feel like cottage cheese has been a favorite of consumers for a long time who are passionate about dairy products.”
Hood offers flavor-free cottage cheese in Country Style, Low Fat, Fat Free, Large Curd and No Salt Added in large tub sizes like 16oz, 24 oz, and 32oz.
Its sweet line (Pineapple, Peaches, Strawberry, Honey & Pear and Pineapple & Cherry) and savory line (Chive, Cucumber & Dill, Cracked Pepper, Garden Vegetables and Chive & Toasted Cinnamon) are also sold in 16oz or 24oz tubs.
The single-serve 5.3oz cups marry it together, available in Country Style, Low Fat, Pineapple, Peaches, Honey & Pear, Chive and Cucumber & Dill. The products are branching out beyond New England, and are now available in Baltimore, Washington DC, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Hood’s cottage cheese division has expanded quickly, with the sweet flavors being the most recent launch. Bohan said that customers have been happy with the flavor innovations and are looking for unique options.
“We’re noticing that consumers are beginning to branch out into savory flavors, which brings cottage cheese beyond breakfast and into the snacking category. So there are more [occasions] when we can offer our product to consumers,” Bohan said.
“Flavor variety is an important growth factor for Hood cottage cheese specifically, and allows us to differentiate ourselves from competitors.”
Nutrition Facts Comparison (5.3oz)
Hood Cottage Cheese with Pineapple: 170 calories, 5g fat, 440mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 17g sugar, 13g protein
DairyPure Cottage Cheese Mix-Ins with Pineapple: 140 calories, 2.5g fat, 480mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 11g sugar, 16g protein
Muuna Cottage Cheese with Pineapple: 130 calories, 2.5g fat, 370mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 8g sugar, 17g protein
Good Culture Simply Cottage Cheese with Pineapple: 120 calories, 1.5g fat, 320mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 10g sugar, 16g protein
Chobani Greek Yogurt with Pineapple on the Bottom: 130 calories, 2.5g fat, 50mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 14g sugar, 11g protein
Moving in on yogurt?
Hood isn’t the only dairy brand investing in cottage cheese innovations. The larger companies have tended to stick to plain choices in large tub sizes, like the Breakstone’s brand from Kraft Heinz and category leader Daisy.
But DairyPure of Dean Foods has a single serve mix-ins line with seven unique flavor combinations like Jalapeno & Tortilla Strips and Blackberries & Granola. Saputo also manufactures low-fat cottage cheese cups for Friendship Dairies in Strawberry, Pineapple and Peach.
Independent brand Muuna has been working to build out the flavored US cottage cheese market since its launch in 2016. It has been vocal about appealing to the same consumers of single-serve Greek yogurt products, and it now sells eight flavors in retailers across the US.
The Good Culture brand has a comparable portfolio of single serves, available in ‘Organic’ and ‘All-Natural Simply’ varieties.
Hood does not agree with the yogurt comparison, however, and Bohan said, “We don’t consider cottage cheese to be a competitor of Greek yogurt. We feel like it’s a completely separate consideration.”
“Consumers who are passionate about dairy products still believe in cottage cheese and love it. When consumers are shopping, they continue to look for functional and nutritional food options in dairy.”
Growing market accessibility
A Research and Market report forecast the global packaged cottage cheese market to grow at a CAGR of 9.73% between 2018-2022. So while cottage cheese is certainly growing, it has not fully penetrated the US dairy market in this ‘renaissance period.’
The Hood, DairyPure, Good Culture and Muuna products are all available at nationwide retailers, but may be harder to find in select regions. Cottage cheese is also not accessible to non-dairy consumers the way yogurt, ice cream, milk, butter and cheese have become.
Last summer the Green Valley Creamery launched a 12oz tub of lactose-free plain cottage cheese, but there is no viable, mainstream option yet for a plant-based cottage cheese alternative.
But it’s likely that North America will continue leading the expansion of the global cottage cheese industry, and the Research and Markets report said “The innovations in terms of technology for manufacturing packaged cottage cheese will be a key trend for the growth of the market.”
“With the introduction of new technology to improve the texture and manufacturing process, the production process of packaged cottage cheese is improving gradually. Key vendors are investing improved technologies to develop the manufacturing process.”
Bohan believes that the current consumer demand for high-protein foods and convenient healthy snacks will drive more dairy brands to consider a cottage cheese offering, taking note from the sweet and savory flavors already on the market.
“We don’t believe it’s a trend, we think it’s a resurgence. I think consumers can expect to see more innovation, and more variety in flavors and sizes,” she said.