Sargento ushers its natural cheese into on-the-go snacking

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

With savory, sweet and now breakfast versions, Balanced Breaks are Sargento's most successful innovation launch. Pic: Sargento Cheese
With savory, sweet and now breakfast versions, Balanced Breaks are Sargento's most successful innovation launch. Pic: Sargento Cheese

Related tags Cheese cheesemakers Snacks

The Wisconsin-based cheese company has extended its Balanced Breaks snack pack line – a breakout star for the brand since its 2015 debut – with a sweet-and-savory breakfast version.

According to the family-owned cheesemaker, Sunrise Balanced Breaks offer ‘a unique balance of ingredients, flavors and textures,’ combining mild cheeses with dried fruits and nuts. Cheddar joins raisins and maple-flavored pumpkin seeds; Monterey Jack meets walnut oat granola, dark chocolate and golden raisins; and ‘double cheddar’ (similar to Colby Jack) is paired with cranberries and vanilla blueberry quinoa clusters.

The morning daypart has been the ‘fastest-growing snacking segment’ for snacks (and foodservice), said Stephanie Meyer, senior marketing manager at Sargento.

“More consumers are really seeking a morning snack that will deliver convenience as well as satiation,”​ she told BakeryandSnacks.

After the first wave of savory snack packs – which also feature a combination of cheese, nuts and dried fruit – the company added three sweet flavors that incorporate caramelized walnuts, peanut butter chips or chocolate.

Market trends and internal research told them that breakfast was the smartest next step.

“Breakfast is all about meeting that morning occasion we know is growing,” ​said Meyer, adding consumers want a balanced, guilt-free snack for their busy mornings.

“People are looking for protein but [are] also looking or diversity of textures and flavors. We wanted to find something that would fit these trends and fit into our product line.”

A single-serving, 1.5oz pack provides 6g to 7g of protein and 10% to 15% of the daily recommended value of calcium. Each serving also falls under 200 calories. 

Award-winning idea

As consumers increase their snacking frequency, in many cases shrinking portion size, they simultaneously want more from snacks – be it taste, nutrition, portability or convenience.

Sargento Balanced Breaks

Meyer said Balanced Breaks was designed to be “a product that would meet all of those areas.”

The first iteration quickly became the brand’s most successful innovation launch, landing Nielsen’s Breakthrough Innovation award in 2017 from a pool of 4,500 products and 18 finalists.

“They are proof that consumers were and are still looking for nutritious and convenient snacks, as well as a variety,”​ she added.

Sargento also won a Nielsen innovation award in 2014 for its ‘ultra-thin’ cheese slices.

A new era for fresh cheese

In 1953, Sargento founder Leonard Gentine pioneered the concept of vacuum-sealed cheese. The brand then developed the first pre-sliced and pre-shredded natural cheese products available in the US.

“Innovation has been really important to Sargento,”​ said Meyer. “It’s center not only to our company but our culture.”

The snack packs are merchandised where the brand is most comfortable: in the dairy aisle or other refrigerated sections. Grocery typically sells them in a three-pack unit (RRP $3.99), while convenience stores sell single packs (RRP $1.59). A 12-pack at club stores runs for $9.79.

Sargento recommends consuming the pack ‘no more than a couple of hours’ after removing it from the fridge.

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