Consumers’ perceptions of cheese - and of what excites them - have been undergoing a quiet revolution over the past decade. One of the key factors driving change has been health - cheese is a high-fat food - but the focus on health has also highlighted its role as a source of protein and calcium for the whole family.
The results reflect a three-point average increase in ratings for new hard cheese products over the decade. While switching to tastier mature varieties of Cheddar, consumers have adopted processed forms as snacks for children. Cheestrings, lambasted by our respondents when launched in 1996, are now achieving respectable ratings. They have made cheese fun. Dairylea has also been well received in snackable forms, despite the poor image of some foods in snack packs.
Perhaps the most surprising development has been the success of blended forms of traditional English cheeses such as Wensleydale and White Stilton. The addition of fruits, in particular, has widened the appeal of different cheeses for a treat or entertaining. This trend has been helped by the availability of small wedges from the supermarket deli.
Packed for Aldi, six mini cheeses for 99p proved a winner, rated only one point below the highest category score. “Something for everyone”, ideal on a cheeseboard or just for snacking.
Innovative but controversial, Cheestrings are now gaining respectability. Children loved this strong onion variety, but mum’s approval was rather more grudging.
A combination of Red Leicester with chilli and crushed black pepper that lived up to its name. A good quality blend, popular with ABC1s who like spicy food.
Put to the test: three recent launches (maximum score 50)Mini Speciality Cheeses - Smokey, Fruity & Herby Score: 43 Category average: 35
Cheestrings Max - Outrageously Oniony Score: 22 Category average: 27
Snowdonia Red Devil Cheese Score: 35 Category average: 35
Produced for The Grocer by Cambridge Fast Foodfax, an independent standardised new product testing service where a sample of 50 consumers rate new products across 10 key performance measures. Maximum score 50. Details on www.fast-foodfax.com