- Cottage cheese is going from a forgotten product in the back of the cold case to an innovative, high-protein dairy item that spans both the breakfast and snacking categories, according to Dairy Reporter.
- Like yogurt, plain cottage cheese is not as popular as varieties with flavors and mix-ins. Portable, single-serve portions are also helping drive a resurgence in the popularity of the dairy product.
- According to a Research and Market report cited by Dairy Reporter, the global cottage cheese market has a CAGR of 9.73% from 2018 to 2022.
Is cottage cheese destined to break away from its stigma as a 1970s diet food? That seems to be the big question as consumers began looking for innovative products in the dairy case. While plant-based products and yogurt have seen significant growth with investment and innovation during the last several years, sales of cottage cheese haven't been as lucrative.
That trend is slowly beginning to change. With three times the amount of protein and about half the sugar of yogurt, cottage cheese is catching the eye of consumers who are interested in better-for-you food. This gradual move toward cottage cheese has caused an explosion of investment in what was once a forgotten product.
In February, cottage cheese brand Good Culture closed an $8 million funding round led by CAVU Venture Partners, with significant investments from General Mills' 301 INC and Almanac Insights. General Mills initially invested in the company through its emerging brands investment division in 2016.
With funds available for expansion, Good Culture has experienced more than 500% growth in the last four years, and can now be found in more than 11,000 stores across the country. Part of the reason for this growth is Good Culture's purposeful targeting of those who don’t normally buy cottage cheese: millennials and younger members of Generation X. Nielsen data showed Good Culture was the only cottage cheese brand bringing in younger consumer segments.
However, Good Culture isn’t the only brand that is growing. HP Hood is a regional dairy brand that has been producing cottage cheese for decades. It is just now expanding into markets outside the Northeast, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Ohio. There is also Muuna, which only produces cottage cheese and markets it as a high-protein, low-sugar on-the-go snack alternative.
Some of the big brands are getting in on the action too. Dean Foods recently reimagined its Dairy Pure cottage cheese with mix-ins like Jalapeño & Tortilla Strips and Blackberries & Granola.
However, while some companies are betting on cottage cheese, others have lost confidence in the dairy staple. In March, Kraft Heinz was reportedly considering a sale of its Breakstone's brand, which makes cottage cheese. As the company works to pay down debt and focus on rejuvenating its portfolio of brands, cottage cheese apparently does not stand out as an investment worth keeping.
Still, although cottage cheese checks off a lot of boxes for today's consumers — including low sugar, high protein and portability — it is going to take a lot of repackaging to divorce the product from its decades of association as a boring alternative to, well, everything else. However, if Good Culture’s explosive reclamation of market share is any indication of the future of this dairy product, cottage cheese sales could very well go in the direction of Greek yogurt.