The dairy farm where Amie and I are living currently is in some ways typical of others in the Poas region of Costa Rica. First, it is beautiful. And the surroundings feel much the same as when we moved to this country in the mid-1990s, whereas many other locations in the country feel different.
The sustainable development of this country has been inspiring, if imperfect on some dimensions (commuter traffic comes to mind, even if it affects only a small geographic area and its local population). There is something comforting about the familiarity of places that look the same decade after decade. But regardless of how you define progress, it implies change.
And our business is about doing what we can to advance progress. So as we think about the future of this dairy, we think about progress by asking what could it be doing differently? What else, besides producing a high quality milk and selling it in bulk, can these hardworking and dedicated farmers be doing to add value. That question is the context in which my reading my daily news feed is a pleasure when articles like this one come along:
After languishing in yogurt’s shadow for decades, cottage cheese is back, sporting new flavors and small-batch appeal.
By Kim Severson
Cottage cheese began life in America as an easy, economical way for colonial cooks to make use of milk left over after they skimmed off the cream. By the 1970s, its amicable presence in recipes and on diet plates had made it a star.
Fame is fickle, and so are the nation’s eaters. Cottage cheese fell out of favor, and now spends its days hanging out in stodgy pint containers near the sour cream, while yogurt sprawls out across acres of the dairy case, dressed up in cute little tubes, flip tops and French glass jars.
America loves a comeback, though, and there are plenty of people who are betting that cottage cheese is primed for one.
“Every seven years or so another wave comes through where we try to reposition cottage cheese,” said Dave Potter, the president of Dairy Connection in Madison, Wis., which sells custom cultures and enzymes to cheese makers. “That’s about where we are now.”
This time, with help from both big food companies and small-batch cheese makers, it might actually work.
On the mass-market side of the equation, the nation’s largest dairy producers are targeting younger people looking for a protein-rich, natural snack they can eat instead of a meal. (Cottage cheese can have twice the protein of some yogurts, though it has a lot more sodium.)
A couple of new players have jumped in, including Muuna, the first product from Israel’s largest food manufacturer to be sold in the United States. American companies like Dean Foods, the nation’s largest dairy company, have given their cottage cheeses makeovers,packing them into smaller, sexier packages and asking retailers to move them away from the sour cream and closer to the yogurt.
New lines have interesting mixes of fruit and nuts, and some producers are experimenting with millennial-friendly additions like probiotics and chia seeds. Flavors are expanding beyond dusty stalwarts like pineapple to include kalamata olive, habanero chile or cumin.
The goal, according to industry analysts, is to “uncottage” cottage cheese — or, as one dairy executive put it, “Chobani it.”
But the road back is not going to be easy. Yogurt outsells cottage cheese by roughly eight to one, said John Owen, a senior food and drink analyst who prepared the annual cheese report for Mintel, a market research company. Even though yogurt sales have started to flatten, American shoppers still bought $8.5 billion worth in 2017.
“Yogurt got adopted by big food in the way cottage cheese never did,” he said.
To use the terminology of food marketers, yogurt wears a health halo. Cottage cheese, long linked to the drudgery of dieting, is fighting a punishment halo.
“Yogurt always had a better back story than cottage cheese,” said Jonathan Kauffman, the author of “Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat.”
Mr. Kauffman, like many people, has let cottage cheese fall out of rotation: “It’s one of those foods I don’t eat, but I feel like I should.”…
Read the whole story here.