The skyr cream cheese spread - which hit shelves in January – is now in three major chains (Meijer, Jewel, and ShopRite), with additional authorizations in five other accounts and more customer decisions pending, Mike Currie, director of marketing at Arla Foods Inc, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Skyr is taking off in the same way Greek was 10 years ago and I think you’ll start to see it pop up in more categories as the yogurt becomes more popular, so we’re trying to get in early on that adoption curve. It's new to the category, on trend, and something only Arla is offering right now. We want to grow the category and not just steal share.
“We’re basically replacing some of the cream in our original cream cheese with skyr, which is a high protein thick, strained yogurt that is less tangy than Greek yogurt, which means you don’t need to add all the sugar to it.”
He added: “We’ve had really great feedback so far as the consistency, taste, and texture, is similar to the original but the nutritionals are better.”
Clean, simple ingredients
The largest producer of dairy products in Scandinavia with leading brands in multiple European markets including the UK, where it markets milk, skyr, yogurt, butter, cheese and cream, Arla Foods entered the US market in late 2015 and has thus far focused on cream cheese – where it has a distinct, clean label positioning – and sliced, snack, and shredded cheese, said Currie.
“If you look at the cream cheese category, dollars are up slightly and units are down slightly, but we’re growing both dollars and units and seeing tremendous gains.
“We are up against some big competitors such as Philadelphia cream cheese [from Kraft Heinz] but we have a fantastic product that has really taken off in the last year. A key point of difference is our clean simple ingredients.”
Arla original cream cheese, for example, contains four ingredients (cream, skim milk, salt, cheese culture), he said, whereas Philadelphia original cream cheese contains a longer list including whey protein concentrate, carob bean gum, xanthan gum, guar gum, and sorbic acid, he said.
“Consumers can’t believe that cream cheese with only four ingredients can taste this good.”
The snack cheese products are in a more "contemporary bar format that appeals to a younger audience," he said, "but we're also offering cheese types that are less widely available in the market such as Havarti, Gouda, Fontina, and Munster."