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Cost-efficient cheese cultures gain popularity in recession

Press Release   •   Apr 20, 2009 09:30 GMT

Chr. Hansen’s “Fresco” series of direct-to-the-vat culture blends for cottage cheese attracts an increasing number of North American cheesemakers. They are all looking to achieve optimum consistency and increased yield.

Chr. Hansen’s Fresco series of cultures for cottage cheese has sparked the international switch from bulk starter production to cheesemaking using the Direct Vat Set (DVS®) technology. The Fresco series is successful in several markets but particularly in North America — the world’s largest market for cottage cheese — producers of cottage cheese are converting.

The current economic downturn is only fortifying this trend. Up 10% the past year, today 30% of North American cottage cheese is made using the Fresco cultures. Chr. Hansen leads the global direct-to-the-vat cottage cheese culture market.

Cutting costs

Food and beverage industry observers agree that cutting costs is the top priority in 2009 for F&B companies. A survey conducted recently by business advisory firm Deloitte showed that 31% of respondents have made cost reduction their number one issue this year.

Deloitte’s report Food and Beverage 2012 - Ingredients for Success in Volatile Markets said despite the economic challenge, recent key trends such as convenience, good nutrition and health, packaging reduction, interest in provenance, environmental impact and ethical sourcing remain. However, affordability, perceived value and price will be relatively more important drivers of consumer choice for the foreseeable future.

Cost-efficient production

“With the economy in a downturn, consumers are tightening their belts. This urges cheese manufacturers to seek out cost-efficient production methods that do not lead to compromises on taste,” says Roy Riley, Marketing Director, Food Cultures & Enzymes, Chr. Hansen North America.

In the past year, the Fresco culture program has experienced a global sales growth of 38% while cottage cheese production continues to decline 1-2% annually.

Consistency and yield increase

“The two primary drivers for the Fresco program continue to be an increase in product consistency and yield. The Fresco cultures improve the cheesemake consistency and dependability which allows the manufacturer to process the cheese on time. This minimizes labor overrun costs due to slow vats and keeps the production schedule on time throughout the day. Moreover, the Fresco program has been proven to increase curd yield an average of 3.3% per vat thus increasing plant throughput using the same labor and equipment costs,” Riley explains.

More Fresco cultures to come

The 1st generation of the Fresco concept was launched in 2001, the 2nd generation in 2003. The 3rd generation — Fresco 1000 — which contains six culture blends designed to be phage alternatives used in rotation was launched in 2004 and expanded with two cultures in 2006 and 2007. Chr. Hansen expects to launch another three Fresco 1000 cultures mid 2009.

Cottage cheese accounts for approx. 700.000 tons of the world’s 18.2 million tonnes consumed in 2008. In North America cottage cheese makes up approx. 12% of all cheese.

According to food and drink consultancy Zenith International, Global demand for dairy products has risen by 15% from 40.9 million tonnes in 2003 to an estimated 47.0 million tonnes in 2008. Cheese accounts for the largest segment of the dairy sector analyzed by Zenith.

Chr. Hansen is a global bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. The products include cultures, enzymes, probiotics and natural colors, and all solutions are based on strong research and development competencies coupled with significant technology investments. Revenue in the 2013/14 financial year was EUR 756 million. The company holds a leading market position in all its divisions: Cultures & Enzymes, Health & Nutrition and Natural Colors. It has more than 2,500 dedicated employees in over 30 countries and main production facilities in Denmark, France, USA and Germany. Chr. Hansen was founded in 1874 and is listed on NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen.

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