While the slice format elevates American cheese to a more premium product, it also makes asiago, a specialty cheese, more accessible to everyday consumers. The new products strike a balance with the existing line of Borden cheese products, and Ellena says the hope is that the new products will expand the cheese’s consumer base.
“People are really looking for artisan sandwich-making experiences,” she says. “Our Borden cheese mom is already making sandwiches and probably wouldn’t be too intimidated to try a different type of slice.”
The convenience and accessibility of the products was also a driving idea for the new mozzarella and provolone shreds. The shreds are an easy addition to dishes consumers are already preparing, adding extra flavor in a convenient way.
The new product lends itself to Italian cooking, a cuisine that is growing rapidly among Americans. American consumers eat Italian dishes on average 29 times per year — a growth from the average of 25 times per year in 2000, according to the NPD Group, a marketing information and advisory firm. And they’re eating it frequently. Of those who eat Italian food, more than half — 57 percent — consume it roughly two times in a two-week period.
“When people cook at home, they’re making Italian food quite often, so we were looking for an easy way to enhance what they’re making,” Ellena says. “A consumer might say, ‘I make lasagna anyway, so I’m going to try this mix of cheeses and see if the flavor is better.’”
The new Borden shreds offer a blend of the two creamy, easy-melting cheeses that complement each other, with mozzarella giving dishes the rich texture that consumers expect from Italian food while provolone enhances the dish’s flavors.
Ellena says she conducted a taste test with the new product, comparing regular mozzarella with the mozzarella-provolone duo side by side on a bruschetta dish. She says the provolone not only added dimension to the cheese flavor, but highlighted other flavors in the dish as well.
“The provolone seemed to enhance the other flavors and tie everything together,” she says.
Ellena says the new products have already generated interest and are currently shipping to select retailers. She says she hopes the new products will open the door for new consumers to become more engaged with the Borden cheese line.
“Innovating within consumer brands is all about staying true to our target audience but also being aware of how we can get more people to become consumers,” she says.
The products are being produced at DFA’s Plymouth, Wis., facility, and are co-packed at a nearby Marathon Cheese plant.