Tapping into Demand for Gourmet Burger Cheese

The US consumer’s love of the hamburger runs rather deep, with annual spending in fast food burger establishments reaching almost US$100 billion. To put this in context, that figure exceeds overall consumer foodservice spending in all but five countries. With premium cheese on the rise, Arla has launched blue cheese slices designed specifically for use with burgers in an effort to take a bite out of the enormous burger market in the US. Launched under its Castello brand, the product is already on the shelves of major retailers in the US and could be set to become a major phenomenon in markets with a similar penchant for gourmet burgers.

The Best Thing since Sliced Bread

A burger with blue cheese is a classic combination, and one that sells particularly well in the foodservice channel. However, there is one problem with blue cheese at retail level – it is difficult to cut. Providing pre-cut slices to complement burgers is a simple but very effective innovation. With convenience being one of the key selling points, it goes without saying that the simplest new product launches can sometimes be the biggest success stories.

Riding the Gourmet Burger Wave

Exposing consumers to premium burgers through foodservice operators will create opportunities in retail as many consumers will opt to dine at home. With burgers becoming increasingly sophisticated in the foodservice space, innovation is desperately needed in the retail channel to help the consumer replicate the product at home. In 2013, US per capita consumption of frozen processed meat and chilled processed meat totalled 11.2kg, this being the fifth highest consumption globally. That, in combination with the US having the largest burger fast food channel, makes it a key growth market.

Consumption of Processed Meat vs Spend on Burger Fast Food

Source: Euromonitor International

Other than the US, Sweden and Canada also stand out as key growth markets with a high spend on burger fast food as well as heavy consumption of processed meat. Sweden in fact has the second highest global consumption of processed meat, at 14.4kg, and so the brand extension from Castello is likely to do very well there. Castello currently ranks ninth in Sweden and therefore already enjoys relatively strong brand awareness. A product extension such as this could enable the brand to move up the rankings in Sweden and reach the SEK100 million mark behind leading brands Apetina, Galbani and Høng.

While US consumer appetite for hamburgers continues to increase and soft cheese is forecast annual average value growth of 2% at constant 2013 prices, significant opportunities exist for manufacturers to come up with more innovative products. With the barbecue season almost in full swing, Castello and other blue cheese brands could see a healthy boost in demand if they offer the right formats.

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