The many worlds of Kraft cheese – New Products Company of the Year

The many worlds of Kraft cheese – New Products Company of the Year – new cheeses

Donna Berry

When it comes to cheese, a food category on which Kraft has built its name and reputation, “continuing innovation is vital to the future of the cheese category and the dairy industry,” says Ponticelli. “As a leader in the dairy industry, Kraft is committed to increasing consumer demand for dairy products and anticipating the changing needs of consumers in 2002 and beyond.”

New products and packages from Kraft’s Churney Co., are just what Ponticelli is talking about.

Churney’s Athenos brand recently expanded its offerings with the introduction of Athenos Blue and Athenos Gorgonzola cheeses. And all of the Athenos cheeses now come in resealable containers.

“Many Athenos consumers had requested that Athenos offer Blue cheese and they view it as a good fit for the brand,” says Paula Shikany, senior brand mgr., Churny Co.

Indeed, Kraft aims to please the consumer, and to offer products that meet consumers’ needs.

“Kraft Rip-Ums are a good example of how we’re driving innovation through new product platforms, flavors, forms and packaging,” says Brian Jansen, senior dir. of operations, technology and procurement, Kraft Cheese. “They are the first American peelable cheese that offers kids the great taste of their favorite American cheese slice–Kraft Singles.

“The development of Rip-Ums is built on the convergence of several consumer trends. First, we see a continued need for convenience with easy meals and snacks. In particular, snacking is a large and growing consumer trend,” Jansen says. “We also know that there is a calcium crisis in the United States. In fact, two out of three kids do not get of calcium.”

Rip-Ums are fortified with calcium, making them an excellent source of this bone-building nutrient.

“Finally, understanding kids and what they like to eat is an opportunity,” he says. “Kids make up almost 29% of the population. Families with kids are a key growth segment for cheese consumption.

“The development of this product presented several challenges,” Jansen says. “First was to fortify it with calcium and get a great tasting product. Another was developing the equipment to make Rip-Ums so we’d get the right shape. Also, the texture had to be just right to get it to peel like string cheese. It could not be too soft or too brittle.”

Ponticelli adds, “Another example of growth through innovation is our Philadelphia cream cheese business. Originally, cream cheese was only marketed in brick form. Through the years, we’ve brought new news to the category with soft, flavors, snack bars and now Philadelphia Snack Bars Marble Brownies.

“We are also pleased with the growth we’ve seen with our Breakstone’s and Knudsen Cottage Doubles,” Ponticelli says. “We recently added a sixth flavor, Apples & Cinnamon. Cottage Doubles fit perfectly with consumers’ increasingly busy lives. Consumers are looking for healthy alternatives at lunch or snack time.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Business News Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group