Mary Carmichael
Arla has pulled the plug on Anchor Inner Balance bio cheddar, admitting that its attempt to bring functional properties to the UK cheese market has bombed.
Launched a year ago by New Zealand Milk before a joint venture with Arla placed the Anchor brand in in the hands of the Danish giant, the functional cheese was the UK's first. It contained higher levels of lactobacillus rhamonus, said to keep the digestive system in balance. A similar concept had been successful in Australia.
However, at a premium price point and with no advertising to push its health message, the concept failed to grab public imagination here. Brand manager Malcolm Walkinshaw admitted sales in the UK had been disappointing.
"It was a novel concept and we had a strong interest from a very specific group of consumers, " he explained. "But the rate of sale just wasn't high enough. It was always going to be a niche product that was going to take consumers a while to accept."
Ironically, Inner Balance's deletion means it will miss out on Anchor's new £7.2m support spend ­ more than three and a half times its previous annual budget.