Tillamook leans into cheesy, premium brand positioning to grow into frozen entree segement

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Tillamook
Image Credit: Tillamook

Related tags Tillamook Cheese Frozen food Pizza

Dairy producer co-op Tillamook County Creamery Association is taking its premium and cheesy message to the frozen food aisle, adding mac and cheese and pizzas offerings, as the company continues to explore opportunities to expand its presence geographically and throughout the grocery store, the organization’s senior director of category growth, Stephanie Carson, told FoodNavigator-USA.

We're still focused on our geographic growth strategy,​” Carson said. “Today, Tillamook is in one in four households across the nation. And just in 2022, we gained 3.5m more households, so that has largely been driven by expansion in the Eastern United States, which started around 2018. In that timeframe, we also look at our dairy categories and what we want to do for growth within those different categories, and we also look to ... enter new dairy categories.​”

Driving growth in frozen food 

In its expansion into the frozen entree and sides aisle, Tillamook will offer Mac & Cheese​ in Classic Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar & Uncured Bacon, and Cheddar & Hatch Chile varieties and Crispy Stone-Fired Pizza in Cheesy Uncured Pepperoni, Three Cheese, Three Cheese Supreme, and Cheesy BBQ Chicken options. 

Tillamook wanted to tap into the growing convenience trend while also staying true to its mission of providing premium cheesy products, Carson explained. “We want to make sure that no matter what we bring to market, it comes from the lens of a really high-quality product that represents our portfolio as a whole,​” she added.

The idea is that our shoppers when they leave the cheese aisle they make their way down the frozen aisle, [and] they'll see Tillamook again, and they'll see this cheese forward-brand and both frozen Mac & Cheese and our Crispy Stone-Fired Pizza and recognize the brand.​”

Tillamook's inspiration for the mac & cheese products comes from a “fan favorite​” mac & cheese topped with crushed pretzels recipe, which chef Josh Archibald created to serve at its visitor center, Carson explained. Tillamook "built on that to create a portfolio of frozen meals​,” she said.

When we looked at the [frozen pizza] space and the opportunity, there's a lot of players, but there is no premium, high-quality cheese player, and cheese is such a core ingredient to pizza that we thought we have an opportunity here to enter this space with leading with our award-winning cheeses. Given that it's such a cheese-dominant product, so that's kind of the space that we're carving and so we created this Crispy Stone-fired Crust to make it really artisan and high-quality.​”

Growing in cream cheese, ice cream 

Tillamook is also growing in categories beyond its traditional shredded, sliced, and cube cheese products, with cream cheese, ice cream, and other products, Carson said.  

"A couple of years ago, we entered into that sixth dairy category, which was cream cheese. And so the cream cheese was an expansion of our portfolio where we're going into a very single brand dominated space, and it's been a really great journey over the last couple of years as we've launched that into retail.​"

Additionally, Tillamook “had a lot of growth” in its ice cream business, as the co-op launched its Neapolitan flavor and “brought back its seasonal program,”​ including Campfire Peanut Butter Cups and Orange and Cream flavors, she said. Earlier this year, the company announced​ that it was expanding its ice cream manufacturing capabilities to meet demand for its 48 oz. family-sized ice cream and three-gallon ice creams for foodservice, with a plant in Decatur, Ill., set to go live in October 2024. 

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