Kerry Research Highlights How Snack Producers Can Innovate with Cheese

Consumers across the world associate cheese flavors with indulgence, comfort, and freshness with significant variation in different regions, according to new research from Kerry, the taste and nutrition company.

Kerry surveyed 8,790 consumers across 16 countries in Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa to learn more about their snacking behaviors as they relate to cheese flavored savory snacks, while also studying new product launch activity. The aim is to understand how consumers relate to cheese flavors and how manufacturers can meet these emotions in new products.

It was found that consumers have a deeply positive perception of cheese flavors in savory snacks, with 62% stating that cheese flavors make savory snacks more exciting – indicating potential for brands to connect with them emotionally. Cheese-flavored snacks also outpaced the overall savory snack category in new product launches, demonstrating further potential for innovation.

While 77% of consumers globally said taste is the number one reason they love cheese, preferences vary across different markets and geographies. Indulgence is a big driver in Europe, while consumers in the UK, South Africa, and the US turn to cheese for comfort. In Latin American countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Honduras, consumers associate cheese with freshness.

Cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan are popular among respondents in North America and Europe, while dairy flavors such as milk and cream play a central role in savory snack flavors in Asian countries – particularly in China, Indonesia, and Thailand. Kerry’s proprietary sensory research also showcased how taste perceptions vary hugely around the world, with panelists in Indonesia describing cheese-flavored snacks as buttery and mild compared to panelists in the UK finding them strong and salty.

The research also explored top flavors based on snack type, with cheddar reigning supreme around the world and cited as the most appealing cheese profile across potato chips, popcorn, and cheese puffs.

Commenting on the research, Soumya Nair, Global Consumer Research and Insights Director, said: “Cheese is a truly cultural experience, shaped by different geographies, generations of rich culinary history, local ingredients and traditions. Our research indicates that there is an opportunity to innovate in this space and bring new flavors to life across a variety of savory snacks. But cheese flavored snacks also bring indulgence and a sense of adventures to consumers. Snack producers can be very creative in blending the traditional with the new.”

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