Consumers across the world associate cheese flavors with indulgence, comfort and freshness with significant variation in different regions, according to new research from Kerry, the world’s leading taste and nutrition company. Understanding these emotions, in combination with local taste preferences, presents a significant opportunity for snack producers to innovate and meet growing consumer demand for new flavors and formats.
Kerry surveyed 8,790 consumers across 16 countries in Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa to learn more about their snacking behaviors as they relate to cheese-flavoured savory snacks, while also studying new product launch activities.
It was found that consumers have a deeply positive perception of cheese flavors in savory snacks, with 62% stating that cheese flavors make savory snacks more exciting - indicating potential for brands to connect with them emotionally. Cheese-flavored snacks also outpaced the overall savory snack category in new product launches, demonstrating potential for innovation.
Consumer preferences vary globally
While 77% of consumers globally said taste is the number one reason they love cheese, preferences vary across different markets and geographies. Indulgence is a big driver in Europe, while consumers in the UK, South Africa and the US turn to cheese for comfort. In Latin American countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Honduras, consumers associate cheese with freshness.
Cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan are popular among respondents in North America and Europe, while dairy flavors such as milk and cream play a central role in savory snack flavors in Asian countries – particularly in China, Indonesia and Thailand. Kerry's proprietary sensory research also showcased how taste perceptions vary hugely around the world, with panellists in Indonesia describing cheese-flavored snacks as buttery and mild compared to panellists in the UK finding them strong and salty.
The research also explored top flavors based on snack type, with cheddar reigning supreme around the world and also cited as the most appealing cheese profile across potato chips, popcorn and cheese puffs.
Opportunity for innovation
Commenting on the research, Soumya Nair, Global Consumer Research and Insights director, said, “Cheese is a truly cultural experience, shaped by different geographies, generations of rich culinary history, local ingredients and traditions. Our research indicates that there is an opportunity to innovate in this space and bring new flavors to life across a variety of savory snacks. But cheese-flavoured snacks also bring indulgence and a sense of adventures to consumers. Snack producers can be very creative in blending the traditional with the new."
“Although many consumers love classic, single-cheese flavors in savory snacks, there is plenty of scope for mixing things up. A significant percentage – 50% - tell us that creative additions such as herbs, spices and chilli are variants they look for."
“We are the global leader in dairy taste and bring a 50 year dairy heritage in food production and science to create global, local and regional-specific cheese taste and dairy solutions. Our marketing, consumer, sensory and regulatory teams work alongside our flavorists and application experts to deliver our portfolio of market-leading dairy and dairy-free taste solutions,” Nair added.