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May 11, 2012
For a listing of previous Retail Watch stories, please see our Retail Watch Archive.

MCT Dairies brings best of Australia to U.S. with Old Croc aged Cheddar


AUS-SOME CHEDDAR — Old Croc, a new line of aged white Australian Cheddar, will be available in 9-month sharp and 18-month extra-sharp varieties. The line will be available through Trugman Nash LLC, an affiliate of MCT Dairies.

By Aaron Martin

MILLBURN, N.J. — Australian Cheddar is regarded as a premium import in European and Japanese retail markets; however, cheese from the land down under isn’t on many store shelves in the United States.

Ken Meyers, CEO of MCT Dairies, is working to change that with the launch of Old Croc, a new line of aged white Australian Cheddar, through Trugman Nash LLC, an affiliate of MCT Dairies.

“With the growing demand for bolder, more flavorful cheeses, we’re very excited to introduce this new brand of specialty Australian Cheddar to the U.S. market,” he says.

Branded with the playful warning, “Careful. It bites,” Old Croc will be available in sharp and extra sharp varieties in 7- and 24-ounce exact weight blocks and in 10- to 11-pound random weight loaves. Meyers says he’s enlisted top-notch cheesemakers in Australia to produce the all-natural cheese using milk from pasture-fed cows that doesn’t contain added hormones.


“Today’s specialty
cheese consumer is becoming more and
more educated about
the products they buy.”

Ken Meyers
MCT DAIRIES


“Today’s speciality cheese consumer is becoming more and more educated about the products they buy. While taste will always be paramount in their purchase decision, the demand for healthy, all natural products is also becoming increasingly important. We are extremely confident that Old Croc will delight even the most discriminating cheese buyer in both taste and healthy ingredients,” Meyers says. “On a proposition basis it’s being put together as a really well-manufactured, well-crafted, properly matured Cheddar that comes with those healthy benefits.”

The sharp and extra sharp varieties — which have a smooth, yet sharp bite and a creamy texture — will be aged nine and 18 months, respectively. Some of the aging will be done in Australia, and some of the aging will be done at a proper aging warehouse in Wisconsin, Meyers adds.

Meyers is no stranger to importing cheese from Australia. MCT Dairies’ Trugman Nash division has been the largest importer of Australian cheese since 1948. Previously, however, the Cheddar imported from Australia hasn’t been marketed in the United States as a consumer-branded product, so MCT Dairies is building the imported Australian Cheddar retail market from the ground up.

“(The Australian cheese market) is under served, and in many ways, people are uneducated about it,” Meyers says. “I’ve had people tell me they were unaware that Australia is so well known for Cheddar.”

Globally, however, the Australian Cheddar market is well established. Meyers says the bulk of the country’s exports go to England and Japan.

“In the world market, Australia is really known as a high-quality Cheddar. They sell their product as a specialty aged Cheddar. In the U.S., most (Australian) Cheddar has been imported as processing quality Cheddar, but the world market has changed. That’s not even viable on a cost basis anymore because Australia has a higher cost market than the U.S.,” Meyers says. “Australians trade their Cheddar at a higher price than New Zealand does.(Australian Cheddar) is considered the premium consumer product out of Oceania.”

When it comes to building a market for Australian Cheddar domestically, Meyers points to the burgeoning Australian wine import market that has developed in the United States in recent years.

“Australian wines were not known here in America just a few years ago. Now there are some really high-end Australian wines that have gained prominence around the world, not just in Oceania,” Meyers says. “With Old Croc, we’re bringing the best of Australia to the U.S. and creating a fully-branded program that’s never been done before — we’re developing a market.”

According to Bob Constantino, who has been involved in developing the Old Croc brand, forging a new retail market for Old Croc comes down to the quality and uniqueness of the product, as well as the familiarity Trugman Nash has with Australian cheese markets.

“Ken has come up with a very interesting aged Cheddar product from Australia with a great flavor and taste profile,” Constantino says. “The Cheddar market is a huge market, and there are not a lot of really good imported Cheddars in the marketplace.”

Old Croc’s snappy logo, motto and packaging aim to catch consumers’ attention and help make a splash in the imported Cheddar market.

“Old Croc is something new and different from a country that is well thought of by the American


“With Old Croc, we’re
bringing the best of
Australia to the U.S. and creating a fully-branded
program that’s never
been done before.”

Ken Meyers
MCT DAIRIES


public. It can enter the market playing off its Australian heritage, the cleanliness of the product and that it’s an all-natural product,” Constantino says. “Consumers are looking for all natural products, they’re looking for flavorful, upscale products for entertaining guests, and it fits that consumer trend.”

Old Croc is uniquely positioned to attract consumers who opt for organic or all-natural products.

“One of the real advantages of our product is that in Australia cows are all pasture fed, so Old Croc is all natural and hormone free,” Meyers says. “Australia has really good classical dairy and classical cheesemaking. They take safety seriously; these are quality manufacturers.”

Australia’s reputation for high-quality, natural dairy may help draw consumers to Old Croc — but Meyers believes its unique flavor profile will keep consumers coming back.

“People like good, clean extra sharp Cheddars. They want to try different kinds of cheeses, they want a variety from mild to extra sharp,” Meyers says.

Also, Meyers thinks the already strong demand for sharp Cheddars could grow as the population in the United States grows older. As people age their taste buds grow duller, and foods with a sharp flavor profile could appeal to that demographic.

A multi-faceted advertising campaign will be deployed to introduce consumers to Old Croc in the coming months.

“It’ll be a grass roots campaign,” Meyers says. “We’ll be using social media and some fun in-store promotions.”

The product will be sold nationwide, but with a focus on a number of targeted markets.

“It will be a target market approach that is on a national basis,” Constantino says. “It’s not going to be shown to every customer in the country.”

Plans call for the Old Croc line to launch in June and go into national distribution in December.

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