Sarah is a Research Manager for Mintel Food & Drink and a global analyst with specialty in the categories of dairy and beverages. She joined Mintel in 2009 after working for the business press.

Nearly eight in 10 Brazilians would like to try more flavors in cheese.

The use of flavor in cheese is an untapped opportunity in Latin America and could give consumers more reasons and more ways to eat cheese. Nearly eight in 10 Brazilians, for example, agree they would like to try more flavors in cheese (eg cranberry/herbs). Yet, despite the interest, product introductions are falling short of demand. Just 12% of cheese introductions in Latin America between January 2017 and April 2018 were flavored. That compares to 22%  in Europe and 25% in North America in the same time period, suggesting ample room for innovation. The reward for that innovation could be a chance to boost cheese consumption in Latin America, where growth rates are fairly moderate.

Combine flavor innovation with texture for wider reach

Despite interest in flavors – or perhaps due to limited options – flavor currently ranks behind texture as a purchase factor for cheese in Brazil. A third of cheese-buyers say a soft texture is an influential factor in choosing which cheese to buy. Flavored cheese (eg with garlic, herbs), by comparison, influences purchase decisions for 17% of Brazilians. Younger consumers appear to be the most interested in flavored cheese – as they often do when it comes to flavor in general – as one in five aged 16-34 cite flavor as a purchase factor.

Flavors give consumers more confidence in cooking/serving cheese

While consumers report using cheese in numerous ways, their desire for advice on how to use cheese suggests a lack of confidence that gives manufacturers a chance to create flavors designed for specific uses or to pair flavors with advice on how to use them. Nearly four in five Brazilians agree they would like more advice on how to use different types of cheese when cooking and three quarters would like more advice on what cheese goes with different food or drink.

Flavored versions of commonly used cheese – such as mozzarella – can give consumers the confidence to cook with cheese more often. Cheese skewers for grilling, for example, are a common item for barbecues and could be enhanced with pre-seasoned or flavored options.

The opportunity

Cheese manufacturers have untapped opportunities in Latin America to introduce more flavors of cheese. Flavor can be added to just about any cheese format, but brands can more fully exploit the opportunity by using flavors in conjunction with new serving formats, or by pairing flavors with advice that would help consumers use cheese more confidently in the kitchen or when entertaining.