Occasionally, the relationship between dairies a and retail may be described as “grating.” But at Uniekaas in the Netherlands, grating has much more positive connotations: The cheese producer develops, sells and markets grated cheese together with JUMBO, the second-largest supermarket chain. That’s developing into an extremely promising business model that ultimately benefits our farmers too.
Senior Sales Manager Retail, Uniekaas, the Netherlands.
“When we slice our cheese into pieces, that creates offcuts too, secondary products that we use as an ingredient for grated cheese,” explains Wilfred Walstra, Senior Sales Manager Retail, Uniekaas, the Netherlands. This approach is much more profitable than selling the cheese as offcuts. The second-largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands soon spotted the fact that grated cheese is a promising product. Since 2018, the two have been expanding the range to include jumbo private label pieces and selections. The contracts for grated cheese were added in week 50/2020. And beyond that, the two partners carried out extensive market research in order to signifcantly expand and optimize the range of grated cheese, and improve the quality.
To do this, they first looked at consumer behaviour: What do shoppers use grated cheese for and what kind of quality are they looking for? Is the cheese used in Italian recipes, traditional dishes or some other kind of dish? “We had an external agency test different qualities of grated cheese. Surprisingly, we found a wide range of types are suitable for grated cheese.” The business partners worked together to develop a series of recipes and quality levels to establish what age of cheese was needed, when it should be delivered and to define the marketing measures needed. Together with JUMBO, Uniekaas controls the whole process from the cow to the refrigerator.
Popular all rounder There’s a growing need for grated cheese that can be used in a variety of ways.
“We set up a whole new production line at the Kaatsheuvel site to expand our range,” says Walstra. “We were already producing grated cheese but that used to be just a small portion of our current volumes. We have now created more capacity, with the new line.” It was a huge step forward, he emphasizes. By optimizing the added value, that ultimately has a positive effect on the milk price for farmers. Both partners have now agreed on a longer cooperation – for an unusually long time, for BU Private Label. Walstra says the new partnership kills two birds with one stone: It optimizes use of the plant’s machinery, Uniekaas works more eficiently, and retail and brand work hand in hand.