The increasing sophistication of consumer palates was one of the main themes influencing innovation and new product development across packaged food categories in Australia over 2017-2018. In cheese, the premiumisation and foodie trends saw speciality varieties gain popularity at the expense of more traditional formats like block and shredded cheese.
The proliferation of probiotic food and beverage trends is increasingly encouraging experimentation and innovation in this area beyond traditional categories such as yoghurt and sour milk products. Cheese is a particularly interesting category in this regard.
Australian consumers are increasingly seeking more novel and exotic flavours in many packaged food categories, particularly when it comes to savoury product types. This trend continued to drive demand for flavoured products in cheese over 2017-2018.
In-store promotions and the growing popularity of specialist cheese shops have played a key role in strengthening demand for speciality cheese products among Australian consumers in recent years. At the same time, these factors have led many consumers to take a greater interest in the narratives and production methods behind speciality products.
In addition to innovation and in-store promotions, product placement within retail outlets can be highly influential in generating consumer interest in individual cheese brands. According to trade interviews, cheese products positioned in the deli section of supermarkets or hypermarkets outlets are more likely to engage the curiosity of shoppers and be perceived as separate from what is considered “everyday cheese”.
In late 2018, Bulla Family Dairy introduced Bulla Spreadable Feta. This innovative new product was launched in response to the increased tendency for snacking and the growing demand for global flavours among Australian consumers.
In June 2017, Sanitarium Health Food Co introduced the So Good flavoured almond milk range in milk alternatives. This range comprises three different ready-to-drink products, which aside from almonds are also made with ingredients such as dates, coconut cream and cocoa.
China’s announcement that it was to ban imports of many types of foreign waste from 2018 initiated a new conversation about glass milk bottles within the Australian dairy industry during the latter part of the review period. As Australians become more concerned about sustainability and the environmental impact of their consumption patterns, dairy producers are being forced to respond accordingly.
A2 Dairy Products Australia Pty Ltd introduced a new powder milk product made with manuka honey in 2018. This launch should help the company to strengthen its competitive position within drinking milk products over the forecast period, as the health benefits associated with manuka honey give the product a premium image and clearly differentiate it from competitors.
Full fat fresh milk continued to gain popularity in Australia in 2018 as consumers increasingly moved away from fat-free and semi skimmed varieties. This benefited private label products, which continued to account for a larger aggregate value share than any single branded manufacturer within fresh milk thanks to their competitive prices and growing monopolisation of retail shelf space.
Parmalat cemented its leading position in dairy only flavoured milk drinks towards the end of the review period with the launch of Oak Plus. The launch was well received thanks to the growing demand among Australian consumers for protein-rich products that offer both flavour and functionality.
The response of players in drinking milk products to rising health awareness among Australian consumers has become more pronounced in recent years, particularly in the areas of technology and marketing. Early 2018 saw The Complete Dairy launch Australia’s first all-natural, high protein and lower lactose milk product.
One of the most notable global trends in yoghurt in recent years has been the increasingly important role played by product narratives and origin stories when it comes to marketing new launches and reigniting enthusiasm for older brands. In the US, for example, Yoplait successfully paid homage to its French roots towards the end of the review period with the launch of Oui by Yoplait, an artisanal-type product packaged in a glass jar.
New launches from Murray Goulburn and Chobani helped to strengthen consumer interest in protein-rich yoghurt products over 2017-2018. Murray Goulburn introduced YoPRO under the Danone brand.
As more Australians started consuming yoghurt throughout the day rather than solely as a breakfast food, packaging was also a key area for innovation in this category towards the end of the review period. For example, in 2018 Chobani and Brownes Dairy both introduced yoghurt products in squeezable bottles similar to those used for condiments.
Portion control has become a more influential factor in new product development within yoghurt in recent years. According to trade sources, manufacturers are increasingly offering smaller packs in response to trends such as rising health awareness, shrinking household sizes and the growing demand for fresher and more affordable products.
Jalna Dairy Foods continued to strengthen its foothold in yoghurt in 2018, with a healthy value share gain moving it up one place in the overall company rankings. The company’s strong performance towards the end of the review period was partly due to its success in securing more retail shelf space for yoghurt products sold under its eponymous brand.
Rising health awareness continued to boost demand for organic cream products in Australia in 2018. One of the main beneficiaries of this trend was Barambah Organics, which as an organic-certified and Australian-owned company is ideally positioned to capitalise on the growing demand for natural and locally sourced dairy products among consumers.
Towards the end of the review period, Bulla expanded its premium cream range with the launch of Pure Cream, a new pouring-style product. As the name suggests, Pure Cream contains no additives or thickening agents.
Lion remained the overall leader in other dairy in Australia in value terms in 2018. The company continued to dominate flavoured fromage frais and quark, where it offers the Fruche brand.
Thanks to the popularity of products offered by Wesfarmers Ltd, Aldi Stores Supermarkets and Woolworths Ltd, private label continued to account for a larger aggregate value share than any branded manufacturer in the other dairy category in 2018. Private label penetration was particularly high in cream and coffee whiteners.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.