Kraft: probiotic cheese is a disappointment

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cheese

Kraft US has confirmed what many market analysts have been saying for some time – probiotic cheese is not winning over the public.

The company has for nearly two years marketed a probiotic cheese and cottage cheese under it LiveActive probiotic foods range, but its chief executive officer, Irene Rosenfeld, slated the product publicly recently.

“It turned out to be a disappointment to us,”​ Reuters reported Rosenfeld saying during a recent interview at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference.

Down but not out

Despite the indictment and the fact she referred to the product in the past tense, Rosenfeld said LiveActive probiotic cheeses remain, for now, on shelves.

Responding to NutraIngredients-USA.com, Kraft senior manager of corporate affairs, Basil Maglaris, said the company was constantly reviewing its brands.

“Digestive health remains an area of interest for some consumers and we continue to offer a variety of products with digestive health benefits – including those under the LiveActive brand,”​ he said.

“LiveActive natural cheese snacks remain a part of our portfolio and we will continue to review the line as we do other brands.”

He would not reveal LiveActive sales figures or speculate on its future.

Added value

LiveActive probiotic cheeses were launched in March, 2007, as part of a Kraft drive to add value to its products, as Rosenfeld said at the time.

LiveActive cheeses sell at a premium over regular varieties and come in cream cheese, natural, cheese stick and cube versions and some of them also contain prebiotics. The range also includes prebiotic cereals, healthy bars and powdered drinks.

There have been several other probiotic cheese launches from other companies in North America as well as Europe and other markets, but according to market research conducted by Euromonitor none of them are performing very well as consumers struggle to engage the concept.

Yogurt envy

This failure has been accentuated by the roaring success of probiotic drinking and spoonable yogurts in North America with Danone subsidiary Dannon reporting strong sales in the sector.

Like those products, LiveActive is marketed predominantly on its ability to benefit digestive health.

Euromonitor figures show fortified cheeses account for only about one percent of the $100bn global cheese market, with probiotic versions faring very poorly.

“Sadly, consumer response to these exciting launches has been lukewarm at best, and none have yet achieved mass-market success,”​ said Euromonitor analyst Ewa Hudson. “The main reason for probiotic cheese's failure to take off is that, unlike yogurt, it is not really regarded as a healthy food.”

She added: “It will never match the success of probiotic yogurt, which is rapidly becoming somewhat of a new industry standard.”

In contrast, reduced fat cheese was performing well. Global sales nearly doubled between 2002 and 2007, reaching $9 billion. By 2012 the figure will be $11.5 billion.

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