Is America Ready to Love Cottage Cheese Again?

Is America Ready to Love Cottage Cheese Again?

A couple of new players have jumped in, including Muuna, the first product from Israel’s largest food manufacturer to be sold in the United States. American companies like Dean Foods, the nation’s largest dairy company, have given their cottage cheeses makeovers, packing them into smaller, sexier packages and asking retailers to move them away from the sour cream and closer to the yogurt.

New lines have interesting mixes of fruit and nuts, and some producers are experimenting with millennial-friendly additions like probiotics and chia seeds. Flavors are expanding beyond dusty stalwarts like pineapple to include kalamata olive, habanero chile or cumin.

The goal, according to industry analysts, is to “uncottage” cottage cheese — or, as one dairy executive put it, “Chobani it.”

But the road back is not going to be easy. Yogurt outsells cottage cheese by roughly eight to one, said John Owen, a senior food and drink analyst who prepared the annual cheese report for Mintel, a market research company. Even though yogurt sales have started to flatten, American shoppers still bought $8.5 billion worth in 2017.

“Yogurt got adopted by big food in the way cottage cheese never did,” he said.

To use the terminology of food marketers, yogurt wears a health halo. Cottage cheese, long linked to the drudgery of dieting, is fighting a punishment halo.

“Yogurt always had a better back story than cottage cheese,” said Jonathan Kauffman, the author of “Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat.”

Mr. Kauffman, like many people, has let cottage cheese fall out of rotation: “It’s one of those foods I don’t eat, but I feel like I should.”

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