Muuna is currently available in over 5,000 stores in the northeast, and is determined to continue its aggressive growth.
“We see this as a very significant opportunity,” Gerard Meyer, CEO of Muuna, told us. “We’re looking to more than double every year.”
The company launched with six single-serve flavors (and two plain multi-serve options – classic or low-fat), including pineapple, peach, strawberry, blueberry, mango, and low-fat plain. It recently expanded its line to include black cherry, vanilla and raspberry.
“The reason we’ve added even more flavors is that people are used to having flavor variety,” said Meyer. “The debut of Black Cherry and Vanilla mark a first in the cottage cheese category, as consumers previously have only seen these flavors available in yogurt.”
The cottage cheese category is worth $1.1 billion, but it is significantly smaller than the $8 billion yogurt category, which has exploded in recent years, but it wasn’t always this way. “Forty years ago, cottage cheese was twice the size of the yogurt market,” said Meyer. Data from various sources has shown that 45% of households buy cottage cheese at least once a year, he said, but they just don’t buy it very often. Penetration for yogurt is about 75%, he noted, but the category is so much bigger because people buy it more frequently.
“People are looking for an alternative to Greek yogurt,” he added. “And now you can have cottage cheese as a single serve, in nice packaging, with more protein and less sugar than yogurt. Just by focusing on the awareness among existing cottage cheese consumers we think we can get to several billions of dollars.”
And the company has the resources to build a significant business, he said: Muuna is a wholly owned subsidiary of Israel’s biggest food manufacturer, and cottage cheese expert, Tnuva.
While Israeli’s eat a lot of cottage cheese, the intention was not to take the Israeli product and bring it to the US, but to develop a product for the US market and the US consumer, said Meyer. “We are using Israeli technology to create a creamier cottage cheese, but our products are made in the USA.”
A 5.3oz pot of 2% milkfat Muuna contains 120 calories, 19grams of protein - which is more than Greek yogurt – 3 grams of fat, and 4 grams of sugar.
So what’s next? Any plans to explore savory, like some yogurt brands? “I would say yogurts have tried this mostly without success. To use marketing jargon, cottage cheese has more permission to play in savory because there is already consumer behavior to use it in savory applications. It is saltier than yogurt, and we do have a lot of savory recipes on our site. I think cottage cheese has the ability to play with savory but we’re dealing with limited shelf-space at the moment, and we are focused on building on the opportunity on the “sweet” side.”