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Velveeta is making a comeback

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New York
CNN business

In 2020, something incredible happened in the dairy aisle. Velveeta started flying off the shelf.

Sales of processed cheese products, which foodies hate, have been declining for years. The sudden interest in the brand provided a rare opportunity to reintroduce new customers and those who hadn’t bought Velveeta in years.

Kelsey Rice, Senior Brand Communications Manager at Velveeta, said:

Velveeta wanted to make a big swing, not only to drive sales, but to establish themselves as part of the culture. “We think Velveeta is an iconic brand and should be viewed as such,” she said.

To change that image, Velveeta had to change the way he talked about himself.

That means fewer commercials about affordable, melty cheese and more marketing stunts like cheese-scented nail polishes and expensive Velveeta martinis.

According to Smithsonian magazine, Belvita was born in 1918. It was the brainchild of a Swiss cheesemaker named Emile Frey, who developed a product from scraps of cheese while working for his cheese company, Monroe, New York. According to the article, the Velveeta Cheese Company was founded in 1923 and operated in Monroe, and in 1927 he was acquired by Kraft (KHC).

Asked about the brand’s history, a representative pointed to a book published by Kraft in 2005 called “The Best Since Sliced ​​Cheese” and said Kraft introduced Velveta in 1928. developing.

By the late 1920s Kraft was calling Velveeta a hit.

A 1929 advert for retailers read, “Never in the history of our business has we offered the industry a cheese product that has achieved such immediate success as Velveeta.” is.”

Velveeta's marketing has evolved over the years.

Advertisements followed that Velvita was not only “delicious” and “healthy”, but spread “like butter” and melted easily when cooked.

Brand marketing has evolved with the times. Advertisements from the 1940s pointed to Velveeta as a wise wartime ingredient and featured a recipe for Velveeta Pudding with Spanish Sauce.

Advertisements for young mothers in the 1950s advised, “Make velveta and fresh fruit for dessert while you’re trying to keep your weight under control and get the nutrients you need from milk.”

By the 1970s, Velveeta had become a global phenomenon. A 1976 New York Times article added that Velveeta was a “world favorite” and that the product helped Kraft’s foreign sales grow by 12% from 1974 to his 1975. increase.

In the decades that followed, American consumption of processed cheese continued to grow. According to the USDA, in 1996 he reached his peak consumption of 8.75 pounds per person. After that, things took a turn for the better.

Twenty years ago, consumption began to decline. People were concerned about the health effects of highly processed foods and started eating more natural cheeses.

To make matters worse for Velvita, in 2002 the FDA sent a letter to Kraft, using the term “pasteurized processed cheese spread” to describe Velvita because it is made with milk protein concentrate. That’s why Velveeta went from a cheese spread to a cheese product. Today, the company still makes his Velveeta with milk protein concentrate and kohl. that Pasteurized recipe cheese products.

As consumer attitudes changed, Velveeta began evolving its advertising. Commercials showed his Velveeta being used to make simple side dishes, such as cheese dips, suitable for parties rather than dinner.

Velvita shells displayed on supermarket shelves last year.

Despite changing their marketing approach, Velveeta stuck to some clear messages. It is a product that is easy to handle.Affordable Walmart’s website shows that a 32-ounce package of Velvita sells for about $6.50. And most importantly, it melts.

Many years after it hit the market, processed cheese still melts better than natural cheeses like cheddar, says Chad Gaylor, vice president of food safety and product research at Dairy Management, a dairy industry group. points out. He explained that processed cheese contains ingredients that melt into a sort of gel when heated.

“We try to make natural cheeses melt like Velveeta,” says Galer. “But we haven’t unlocked that yet.”

According to Rice, its unique melt-in-your-mouth quality has been the focus of Velvita’s advertising. Now it’s trying something new.

In 2018, Velveeta’s sales fell about 4.5% year-over-year to $1.1 billion, according to IRI. Sales fell again in 2019 — down about 2.4%.

But during the pandemic, Velveeta has benefited from people’s interest in comfort food and easy-to-prepare meals. In 2020, Velveeta’s sales surged nearly 24% of his.

To capitalize on that movement, the brand has developed a new identity. In Rice’s words, “Velveeta exists to make exorbitant pleasure a way of life.” The brand updated its logo and launched a new advertising campaign, La Dolce Velveeta, to support the change.

A commercial for La Dolce Velveeta where someone eats ice cream from an ice cream cone.

Then came the stunt.

In June, Velveeta began selling cheese-scented nail polishes. Most recently, it launched Veltini, a Velveeta martini made with cheese-infused vodka, available in select restaurants and online.

The nail polish got some good reviews. Vertini…not so much.

A Washington Post writer who ordered the drink at a restaurant said, “Looks like a mad cheese monster, with olives in beady eyes and dripping Velvita cheese in a lopsided mouth.” He said. Hoda Kotb, of The Today Show, reluctantly tried it on air and wasn’t a fan. “No,” she said, “no, girl, no.” Her co-host Jenna Bush Hager said it wasn’t bad.

Bad reviews don’t matter to Velveeta, who are often the subject of jokes.

“Overall, we are really happy that the world has embraced Velveeta Veltini,” Rice said. The most important thing is to get people to think about Velveeta again.

“People pay attention,” says Bob Samples, who teaches food and consumer goods marketing to students at Western Michigan University when a brand has a flashy marketing push. “They go to the store, learn the name, and buy it.”

So far, Velveeta seems to be maintaining its pandemic boost. According to IRI, his sales through July this year are up 3.2% after he fell 1.1% in 2021.

In Samples’ view, Velveeta has moved from a pandemic trend to a high inflation environment. Velveeta’s long shelf life may make it more appealing now as people try to avoid food waste to save money.

Plus, whether it’s a new advertising campaign or not, people know what they’re getting when they buy Velveeta.

“People know what to expect,” Samples said. There is a “comfort that goes with it”.