Heng Hong Tan
Heng Hong is Mintel's APAC Food and Drink analyst based in Kuala Lumpur. He comes with over a decade's worth of experience identifying emerging food and drink trends.

In Indonesia, the concept of eating cheese on its own is relatively new as cheese is still typically only used in food preparation. However, there are cheese snacks available in various markets around the world that come in cube, triangle, sliced, stick and mini-block formats—formats that encourage snacking.

Finding potential in stick cheese

While snacking on cheese is still a novel concept among Indonesians, this can be changed with stick cheese. Compared to the more commonly accepted sliced cheese option, stick cheese has the added advantage in snackability, particularly in terms of texture and flavour.

For one, stick cheese has a denser, springier and chewier texture, offering consumers an enhanced snacking experience. This aligns with Mintel’s 2018 Global Food and Drink Trend ‘New Sensations’.

Furthermore, there is more flavour innovation when it comes to cheese in stick format. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), just over half of stick cheese launches in Asia Pacific introduced between 2016-18 were unflavoured or plain. In comparison, 90% of sliced cheese launches introduced to Asia Pacific in the same time period were unflavoured or plain.

Appealing to Indonesia’s young consumers

To popularise the concept of cheese snacking, local cheese brand Emina fashioned the packaging of its stick cheese after that of ready-to-eat (RTE) sausages, a product that’s already popular with young Indonesian consumers. In fact, compared to RTE sausage, Emina’s stick cheese has more healthy attributes and could potentially be more appealing to parents looking for healthy snack for their children.

Emina Pizza Flavoured Cheese Stick

Aside from targeting the core snacking market, in this case children, cheese brands can also reach out to adults by introducing snackable cheese for consumption in between meals (eg bite-sized formats), while delivering on protein benefits such as satiety, energy and the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.

Half of metro Indonesians associate high-protein food and drink with energy bursts and two in five with muscle building. Meanwhile, more than a quarter say that it helps them to snack less.

Global examples of cheese snacks that tap into snacking occasions

Bite-sized cheese snacks: Launched in South Korea, Svalya Bite Sized Smoked Cheese Snacks with Garlic are said to be naturally wood-smoked and are bite-sized, suitable for consumers on-the-go. On pack features logos that recommend consumers enjoy them with friends, drinks or while watching the television.

Enjoyed on-the-go: Launched in Canada, Saputo Armstrong Cheddar with Garden Herbs Natural Cheese Snacks are said to be a convenient and nutritious (high in calcium and protein) snack that can be enjoyed at home, on-the-go, anytime and anywhere.