Bold Flavors Hit the Spot

The California Milk Advisory Board found in a nationwide consumer survey that Americans favor bold-flavored specialty cheeses like never before. Indeed, 64% of respondents agreed with this statement: I love strong or pungent cheeses and 67% agreed with this statement: I am eating more flavorful cheese than I used to. Then, a whopping 91% said they like flavored cheeses. Researchers conducting the

The California Milk Advisory Board found in a nationwide consumer survey that Americans favor bold-flavored specialty cheeses like never before.

Indeed, 64% of respondents agreed with this statement: “I love strong or pungent cheeses”; and 67% agreed with this statement: “I am eating more flavorful cheese than I used to.” Then, a whopping 91% said they like flavored cheeses.

Researchers conducting the survey concluded that cheese lovers are buying more specialty cheese than ever before; that it will be those with very high and/or unusual flavor profiles that will be in greatest demand; and that consumers will pay more for specialty cheeses with more flavor.

“Bold flavors are part of California's culinary history, with Hispanic and Mediterranean cuisines very popular,” said Tricia Heinrich, CMAB's vice president, communications.

Heinrich listed some new California cheeses that have particularly bold flavors. They include a habanero cheddar produced by award-winning producer Fiscalini Cheese. It features spicy Western chilies combined with raw-milk, aged white cheddar. Ragin' Cajun, usually paired with Creole cuisine, and jalapeno organic Monterey jack also were recently launched by California producers.

With consumers seeking more flavor, producers are trying new twists on old favorites. At the recent International Dairy-Deli-Bakery 2008 seminar and expo, bold-flavored cheese was in the spotlight. At least 10 exhibitors had cheeses flavored with Peppadew, wasabi or Tabasco. One new standout that SN sampled was F. Cappiello Dairy's marinated fresh mozzarella with Mediterranean spices.