Three Cheese, Four Cheese, Five Cheese More

“Trend No. 10: Cheese Blends - If one cheese is good, three or four must be better, right? A quick glance through the supermarket cheese case or your local pizzeria's menu proves that blends of three, four or even more cheeses are hot. What's behind the trend? You guessed it: flavor. Bolder, more interesting flavors are easily achieved by blending different varieties of cheese, and manufacturers have made it easy for us to tap the trend by providing a myriad of ready-to-use natural cheese blends.” So reports the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's (WMMB) 2003 list of 12 cheese trends. And, indeed, the trend also can be seen in a broad range of new product categories.

Late last spring, Kraft Foods North America, Glenview, Ill., introduced a four-cheese snack cracker (cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, romano) with “Real Kraft Cheese.” The ingredient legend lists cheese and cheese powders in several places including “cheese powders (cheddar, parmesan, bleu, American and romano made from cultured milk, salt and enzymes).” Introduced initially in a box, a 2.5-oz. multi-laminated bag line extension was added in late fall.

Also around October of 2002, Nestlé USA's Stouffer's Foods, Solon, Ohio, introduced a newer version of its Lean Cuisine Family Style Recipes Classic Five-Cheese Lasagna that serves up to 12 people. The 96-oz. carton retails for $9.95. An earlier single serving version is shown here. This version sports romano, parmesan, lowfat ricotta and mozzarella cheese, and reduced fat provolone on the ingredient list. Additionally, cheese flavors, including an enzyme modified parmesan cheese, increase the perception of cheese without adding significant amounts of fat.

This ability of full-fat cheese and cheese flavorings to be used in reduced-fat products can be seen in Luigino Inc.'s, Duluth, Minn., new Michelina's Shrimp & Vegetables Alfredo bowl with 8g fat per serving. — WMMB 12 Cheese Trends list

Only One Sniff

Some 90% of Americans (presumably single) would turn away a potential date who didn't care for their pets, according to an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) survey. Some 83% refer to themselves as their pet's mom or dad, 70% give gifts to their dog on holidays, 38% leave messages on the answering machine for their pets, and 19% choose restaurant meals that will have leftovers their pets will enjoy.

Chomp Inc., Lebanon, N.J., “inventors of pet candy,” provides these factoids as sales support for a product they launched last fall…Sniffers Dog “Candy” with Real Beef and Cheese. Its brochure also notes that pet “candy” is the fastest growing pet product category. Sniffers is presented in a candy-like package; the semi-moist bites are based on wheat and soy flour, sweetened with corn syrup and possess a flavoring system that combines chicken fat, beef, cheese powder and natural and smoke flavors.

Although only 4% of cheese powder-containing new products in 2002 were in the pet category, dogs and cats ought be particularly objective judges of a product's taste. Cheese powder—along with casein—is the predominate flavor enticement in Gaines Pet Food's, Ontario, Denta Care Oral Care Bones, a hygiene snack to help control plaque and reduce tartar build-up, introduced in Canada last summer. The connection between cheese and a reduction of dental caries is, in fact, not farfetched. A plethora of research supports this association. A variety of mechanisms have been proposed, including the ability to increase salivation.

One last factoid from a Petsmart survey: 22% tune into the television shows their pets like to watch. (That may explain the popularity of some shows.) — Chomp Inc. website; will shortly post forms for the Chomp's national Worst Dog Breath Contest — Two websites on research on cheese and reduced dental caries

“Xtreme” Flavored Snacks to Baby Food

No greater testimony can be given to the flavoring desirability of an ingredient than its use in the snack and, possibly, beverage categories. These two categories are populated by products primarily consumed for their sensory-satisfying nature rather than for basic sustenance (teens excluded).

Cheese has been included in the “xtreme” or bold flavor trend. Campbell Soup's Pepperidge Farm recently launched “Goldfish Snacks” in three new flavors on the Canadian market: Wild White Cheddar, Xplosive Pizza, and Xtra Cheddar Cheese. The company claims the product is “made with real cheese and offers an outrageous blast of flavor,” reports Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD). Cheddar cheese appears first on the label, and is supported by additional cheese powder comprised of cheddar cheese, whey, buttermilk and disodium phosphate. A similarly formulated Flavor Blasted Goldfish on the U.S. market is shown here.

In another example, Hostess Frito-Lay (Pepsi-Cola Canada) launched Doritos Extreme Tortilla Chips in Canada early last year. “Cheddar & Sour Cream and Bold BBQ are…loaded with intense flavor,” claims the company. Its cheese powder contains cheddar, Monterey jack, Swiss, and Colby cheeses. The product was introduced on the U.S. market in mid-2001.

Most cheese powder and flavoring use among snacks is a bit less extreme. Kraft Foods North America's Nabisco, Parsippany, N.J., Wheat Thins in Ranch flavor, which is “Oven baked like a cracker, crispy like a chip” hit the market last summer (2002). Cheddar cheese powder is a key flavoring ingredient.

The power of cheese is well known to children and adolescents, many which prefer their pizza with cheese…just cheese. Now, Gerber, Fremont, Mich., bridges the gap between baby food and a new Improved Taste Gerber Graduates For Toddlers Pasta Shells & Cheese. Introduced around December of 2002, the 6-oz. tub retails for about $1.19. It is rich in protein and provides zinc, says the company. Zinc is incorporated in the form of zinc sulfate.

The product contains both cheddar cheese and two cheese flavors…one made from cheese, whey, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, whey protein concentrate and several other ingredients, a second from enzyme modified blue cheese. A more intense flavor can be developed when various protein- and fat-cleaving enzymes (proteases and lipases, respectively) are used to treat cheese.
— Brief description of cheese powders and enzyme-modified cheeses and their benefits (from the U.S. Dairy Export Council)
— Discussion of research into cheese powder flavor loss during baking in snacks and other products">

Sidebar: Going Global

Playing with your food (a.k.a. interactive foods) is encouraged by RFM Corporation's Nooda Crunch. Introduced in the Philippines in December of 2002, the cheese-flavored, ready-to-eat noodle snack is to be crushed, mixed and shaken before the 40g foil bag pack is opened. It is also available in barbecue and pizza flavor.

The first seven ingredients listed are wheat flour, oil, cheese powder, salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate and soy sauce. The product also is positioned as vitamin and mineral fortified.

Koikeya, Japan, introduced Spicy Cheese Tortilla Chips under the Don Taco brand in October last year. A glance at the ingredient legend shows an intriguing set of ingredients to please the palate. Non-GMO corn starts the list, followed by oil and then cheese powder. Hydrolyzed protein, meat extract powder (chicken and pork), flavorings and seasonings with amino acids support the savory flavor system. However, sweetness is added with a touch of sugar, and by stevia and licorice, both plant extracts that enhance the perception of sweetness.

Minneapolis, Minn.-based Schwan's, with familiar pizza brands such as Tony's and Red Baron, has introduced numerous pizzas into the U.K. market in the last two years. Scrambles, under its Chicago Times brand, is a bit different. Introduced in the spring of 2002, it hopes to capture some of the frozen breakfast foods market, notes the GNPD. Made with scrambled egg and cheese in a deep dish pizza-like crust, it is available in Bacon and Sausage. The bacon version contains a number of cheese-based ingredients including 5% “red Cheddar cheese,” 5% processed cheese and cheese powder. With two microwaveable pieces per box, it is priced at £1.99—or about U.S. $3.10.

Sidebar: Cutting the Cheese Powder Market

Dehydrated cheeses or cheese powders are composed of either a single cheese variety or a blend. They may be all cheese, or cheese blended with other functional ingredients such as emulsifiers, flavors, whey, caseinate and other components to help it disperse, flow freely or resist caking. Cheese powders have no standard of identity in the CFR (Code of Federal Regulation).

Snacks form the largest segment of the cheese market, but the ingredients are used in a variety of products from confectionery and desserts, which tend to use cream cheese powders, to dry mixes.— Keyword searchable website of the American Cheese Society — DMI

Short List of Cheese Powder and Cheese Flavoring Suppliers

(See also the online directory of the Food Master for a more extensive list of cheese and cheese powder suppliers. Go to and click on the ingredients section.)

DairiConcepts L.P., Hummelstown, Penn., 717-566-4500

David Michael & Co., Philadelphia, Penn. 215-632-3100

Dragoco/Haarmann & Reimer 201-462-2292

Eatem Foods Company 800-683-2836

HUMKO Speciality Powders, Cordova, Tenn. 423-842-4171

Kerry Specialty Ingredients, Beloit, Wisc. 800-328-7517

Kraft Food Ingredients Corp., Memphis, Tenn. 901-381-6500

Wild Flavors (Canada) Inc. 905-362-4999

Wynn Starr Flavors Allendale, N.Y. 201-934-7800