TILLAMOOK, ORE. — Tillamook County Creamery Association, a 110-year-old farmer-owned dairy cooperative, is unveiling its first major logo and packaging refresh in more than 60 years. The brand, which offers cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream and butter, has launched more products in the past four years than in the four decades before.
Rapid national expansion and product innovation have fueled more than 60% growth over the past five years. Tillamook Creamery generated $800 million in sales in 2017, up from $477 million in 2012, when Patrick Criteser joined the cooperative as president and chief executive officer.
The latest addition is slated to debut in March. Tillamook Cheeseboard is a line of premium snack packs featuring cheese, crackers and fruit spread. Varieties include Sharp Berry Crunch, with sharp white cheddar cheese, marionberry spread and rosemary crackers; Spicy Berry Bite, with Pepper Jack cheese, marionberry spread and multigrain crackers; Smoky Apple Crisp, with smoked medium cheddar cheese, apple spread and olive oil crackers; and Sharp Strawberry Heat, with sharp white cheddar cheese, spicy strawberry spread and rosemary crackers.
The products will launch in select markets, including Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Spokane, Wash., and Denver.
“We were looking for a way to meet consumers’ interest in snacking in a premium, Tillamook way,” Mr. Criteser told Food Business News. “Obviously, one of the ways we all enjoy cheese at home is by combining them with crackers and spreads and other forms on cheeseboards.”
The product line was designed to be savored or shared — not devoured on the go like many other snacking options.
“We partnered with folks that could make a particular cracker for us that would pair well with various cheeses and the fruit spreads,” Mr. Criteser said. “With the fruit spreads, we wanted to be able to provide offerings that were unique and carefully curated to go with particular cracker flavors and cheese flavors. Something consumers maybe wouldn’t think to put together or wouldn’t have access to easily put together themselves.”
Consumers play a central role in research and development at Tillamook. The recently launched Sauce Starters line was inspired by a comment from a participant at a focus group. The just-add-milk cheese sauce mixes include seasoning blends and feature varieties such as creamy alfredo, aged cheddar, spicy queso and three cheese.
“We have a range of ways of engaging with consumers as we develop products,” Mr. Criteser said. “In some cases, it’s the more typical focus group structure or setting. We also spend time with consumers in their kitchens or in their gatherings with friends in their living rooms. We also invite them in to one of our R.&D. facilities or offices and ask them to taste and give feedback and cook with a product.
“In this quest to provide something that’s new in the marketplace, that’s still on-brand but meeting an unmet need for consumers, we try to have as much interaction with consumers in those various ways as we can.”
To that end, the company identifies opportunities to offer everyday convenience and a premium experience in traditional dairy product categories. Tillamook partners with other Pacific Northwest companies to create ice cream flavors such as Pendleton Whisky & Maple Frozen Custard and Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee Ice Cream. Yogurt varieties feature locally sourced fruit, including Oregon blueberries, Washington raspberries and Hood River pears.
And while many brands have pivoted to meet demand for plant-based food and beverage products, Tillamook does not plan to introduce any such products in the foreseeable future.
“We’re a dairy company, so we stay focused on how we produce dairy products that consumers are going to choose as part of their diet,” Mr. Criteser said. “At this point we’re not considering adding any plant-based products to supplement our main brand offering. I’m not sure if we would ever do that in the future. It’s not something we’re thinking about right now.”
As for the new look, which shoppers will begin seeing in March, clean packaging with an approachable, bold design features a new wordmark and logo inspired by a 1950s emblem.
“Our rich heritage matters, and we wanted to ensure it was reflected in our brand refresh,” said Audrey Crespo, head of design for Tillamook County Creamery Association. “We dug into our vaults and borrowed from a couple of old 1950s logos to inspire the new wordmark and reinvented our Morning Star ship icon into a simple, ownable symbol that represents our farmer roots, values and history.”