From Mozza-Monsters to Monterey Jack: Behind Bel Brands USA’s new and reformulated Mini Babybel flavors

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Bel Brands USA
Image: Bel Brands USA

Related tags Cheese cheese snacks Dairy plant-based Protein school nutrition school lunches child nutrition

DairyReporter speaks to Babybel brand director Melanie Nemoy to find out how Bel Brands USA leaned on consumer research to craft its first new flavor in nine years, and improve one of its staple offerings.

It’s been nine years since the Mini Babybel line-up of snackable cheeses welcomed a new addition to its colorful wax-coated ranks. At the end of February 2023, Bel Brands USA unveiled Monterey Jack – the first new Mini Babybel flavor to be introduced since 2014.

And there was more – the company was also releasing a reformulated Mini Babybel Mozzarella, after consumer research suggested that the original product, which was first released in 2013, could be improved.

‘Zero taste complaints’

To find out what went on during Bel Brands USA’s research and development process behind the reformulated Mozzarella flavor, we caught up with Mini Babybel brand director, Melanie Nemoy. “Our consumers are at the core of our strategic decisions and ultimately, were the reason behind this reformulation,” she explained.

“Through consumer research, we identified feedback on the previous Mozzarella recipe that it no longer met expectations in terms of taste, flavor and texture. Mozzarella is a key flavor to keep in our portfolio, so rather than pulling the flavor from shelves, we spent six months re-working and re-testing internally.

“Like all our new product launches, we then conducted a round of consumer tasting, in which we received zero taste complaints.”

Mini Babybel Mozzarella
Bel tweaked the amount of fat and acidity to achieve a 'truer mozzarella flavor' / Image: Bel Brands USA

Nemoy added that the company worked with focus groups of adults as well as children to identify areas that were missing the mark, such as saltiness, texture and flavor. “To revamp our Mozzarella variety, we slightly adjusted the amount of fat and acidity and balanced the flavor profile to achieve a truer Mozzarella flavor that stands up strong among competitors,” the Bel Brands USA executive said.

The reformulated Mini Babybel Mozzarella comes in refreshed packaging that features four ‘mascots’ on-pack – the Mozza-Monsters – as Bel Brands USA targets families and young children in this re-launch. According to the company’s consumer research, carried out alongside Curion, when tested among families more than 70% of adults had said they would buy Mini Babybel Mozzarella for their children.

“The reformulated Mozzarella is loved by kids and adults of all ages, but we’re gearing it towards families with kids aged 4 to 12 years old,” Nemoy told us. “We’re excited to introduce the Mozza-Monsters – four new adorable mascots – that will be permanently featured on the Mini Babybel Mozzarella packaging. These new designs will help customers locate the new and improved variety and make for an exciting snack time for kids.”

The reformulated Mini Babybel Mozzarella contains 4g of protein and 70kcal per serving.

‘Highly-rated’ flavor

In addition to optimizing its existing portfolio, Bel Brands USA spent 15 months to develop and taste-test Monterey Jack, its first new flavor in nine years. Monterey Jack is said to be mild and creamy with a slight sweetness, with each serving offering over 4g of protein.

“Through our consumer research, we uncovered Monterey Jack as a highly-rated flavor missing from our portfolio,” Nemoy explained. “Following 15 months of product development, we found in taste trials that Babybel’s take on the mild, creamy, and slightly sweet cheese is preferred by kids and adults alike. When tested among kids, it was the most preferred in lunchboxes (83%) among our core flavor offerings.”

The research also revealed that nearly 90% of adults would purchase the Monterey Jack flavor for themselves.

“With this new flavor, and added reformulation of Mozzarella, we are thrilled to have a robust portfolio of flavors to make it easier to restock the fridge with options for the whole family,” Nemoy concluded.

Mini Babybel Monterey Jack
The new Monterey Jack flavor comes in teal-colored wrapping / Image: Bel Brands USA

“Additionally, with the introduction of Babybel Plant-Based, our first-ever alternative dairy snack from Babybel, those who cannot or choose not to eat dairy can still enjoy the satisfying ritual of unpeeling the Babybel wax, and soft, creamy texture."

Monterey Jack and Mozzarella are available now at major retailers in the US, including Albertsons, Hy-Vee, Wakefern, and Walmart, at a retail price of $7.99 for a 12-count net. While there are no current plans to introduce the new flavor beyond the US market, Nemoy said that Bel Group is ‘constantly looking’ at the market and conducting research and consumer testing to inform its next steps.

Related topics Retail & Shopper Insights Cheese

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