Ingredient Focus 2019: Cheese

We delve into the depths of the cheese industry
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Cheese, Ingredient

Operations

Our love of cheese is never ending. Whether it’s a classic cheese board or a trendy raclette, consumers want it, want it, want it. So it’s up to restaurants, and ultimately suppliers, to make sure they get it.

But what are the challenges that suppliers and distributors are facing in the industry right now?

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We asked Eusebio Gonzalez, managing director DMK MENA FZCO, whose Oldenburger brand is popular around the world, and he said: “Production flexibility and fast innovation are two of our internal goals under constant review and improvement. This helps us to be ready for challenges like changes in trends and consumer dietary preferences. We reflect critically on our value chain efficiency and strive for improvement.”

Production lives and dies by the supply chain, which for Oldenburger begins in the north of Germany. There, Gonzalez tells us, “DMK cows are living in a suitable environment with green meadows, good climate, feeding on local GMO free feed. High quality standards and latest technologies ensure that Oldenburger products are controlled at every step of the production to meet consumer quality expectations. Once packed and sealed, the products take a journey to various countries around the world.”

Fortunately for countries like UAE it’s simple to get products from farm to fork as Rami Nader, senior brand manager, cheese and Italian categories, Greenhouse, explains: “Supply chain in the UAE is easy as the country is a regional hub for air, sea, and land transportation. There are daily flights coming from all over the world thanks to Emirates and Etihad airlines. However the challenge here is to maintain the proper cold chain from the production site until the product reaches the client.

“Greenhouse being the leader in the industry for more than 40 years, handling cheeses with shelf life of 14 days onwards, gives us an edge in supplying the best products in the best conditions.”

The world is putting the sustainability of all businesses under the microscope and dairy products are no different. Indeed, Gonzalez tells us that DMK are ahead of the curve when it comes to green programmes, with the first being started in 2013. He said: “DMK Group introduced the ‘DMK 2020 Sustainability Strategy: Our milk. Our world.’ back in 2013. Shortly after DMK launched the Milkmaster programme as one of the sustainability milestones. Topics such as animal welfare and climate protection had gained even more in importance in the past few years and the DMK 2020 strategy was updated to give it the highest priority.

“We value the fact that milk, our raw material, is a product of nature and we want to ensure that we produce, process and sell our raw milk responsibly. German dairy industry enjoys a positive image in society but is also under critical observation by the public, particularly in the areas of farm animal welfare conditions, feeding and animal health. That’s why Milkmaster was developed. Milkmaster describes our standards for responsible milk production and gives farmers support in continuously improving their farms.”

Going forward, both of our experts believe there is great prospects for growth of the industry in the region, with Nader saying: “Cheese is in general a growing category as consumers are being more and more aware of what they are buying; searching for products with more nutritional values for themselves and their kids. With the snacking trend in the rise, cheese is becoming the healthier choice as it is high in protein, high in calcium and in vitamins.”

Gonzalez agreed, saying the future is brighter here than in other regions. “When comparing Middle East to dairy saturated markets like Europe, it’s clear to see that it’s an area with a high growth potential. Our own estimation is around 2-3% p.a. depending on the category. 

“The direction that we can see the industry taking is towards differentiation. Many brands are offering a product portfolio with added value but emphasising on being different from the competitors.”

Top trend:

How best can companies take advantage of changing consumer opinions to market their products correctly? We asked what the big trends are in the cheese industry right now.

Rami Nader, senior brand manager, cheese and Italian categories, Greenhouse, said: “There is a trend in the foodservice market on cheese assortment baskets that we are leading through our wide offering. The concept is to supply the hotels for their breakfast/ brunch/ functions different assortment of cheeses with different price ranges and quality depending on their request.

“Another trend is cheese snacking that we are also leading through our mini cheese concept that is being implemented with major retailers.“

Eusebio Gonzalez, managing director DMK MENA FZCO said: “One trend that remains unchanged in the cheese industry is the customer’s wish for natural ‘clean label’ products. It’s a trend that we follow and are very proud to offer a range of products containing no artificial ingredients. Oldenburger cheese is nothing else but ‘mother nature at its best’.

“The hot topic for professionals remains high quality and perfect solution for each application. This is something we aim to achieve with our high quality portfolio of cheese.”

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