American cheese ‘s characteristic is its milder flavor than cheddar. It is a symbol of American food. Since it was come from US and become one of the American favorite foods from long time ago till now. Through looking into the history of Cheese, it reflects the US lifestyle and the culture. American cheese was an inferior cheese to Europe people at the beginning. However, when the US economic grows drastically because of the industrialization, status of US cheese also changed. Moreover, price of cheese is lowered down through rationalization so it penetrates into US people life and become a representable food in its culture.
After knowing about the US culture through its history, the spread of cheese to Asia also reflect the culture according to the consumption ways of that region. Although cheese is a western food, it existed in the early years in China. One type of cheese called "rushan" has finally been produced in China since the time of the Ming Dynasty. Cheese walking effect is very strong. It can bring the American culture to the world and combine with the local culture.
Cheese Globalization is very success as it is a food easily accepted by people. McDonald contributes a lot in the cheese walking. Since McDonald put American cheese in its burger and sells over the world, this brings American cheese to people’s life and the society. Cheeseburger makes people shape its own cheese eating habit so it enhances global communication and marketing.
There is a big difference in Cheese marketing between Western and Eastern countries. The cheese marketing ways in different regions and different periods of time let us know the countries’ culture and its development. In western regions, they are used to eat cheese already, so the companies mainly promote the ways of eating cheese and what kind of food cheese can match with. These let American cheese become a need in a meal. In Eastern regions, since they rarely have cheese, as it is a new food for them, so companies mainly targeted their customers as youth and children since they are easily accept new food and it place the foundation of becoming popular in the next generations.
What is American cheese?
American cheese used to be a blend of Colby and cheddar cheeses. These varieties were most popular in America, and it was invented in America, hence the name. American cheese then was sold in blocks in delis and supermarkets. It was preferred because of its milder flavor than cheddar.
Moreover, the one who start to analysis and develop the art of cheese making is Romans. Romans developed the way of storing and ferment of cheese. They paid attention to different mature techniques on the effects towards tastes, appearances and smells of cheeses. Different kinds of cheeses are then produced.
Later, the techniques were spread to France because she had been captured by Roman Empire. Actually, the lives of colonized people are affected by the colonial rulers which are implemented by a minority of foreign invaders under Colonialism. (Osterhammel, J. (2005). Colonialism: a theoretical overview) Therefore, it shows that the extremely growth of Cheese art making in France was led by Colonialism.
Americans got serious about cheddar. Cheddar cheese was a superior food that produced only when definite orders were made in the earlier stages. Later, milk was collected from livestock farmer. Therefore, those farmers were rewarded based on the amount of cheese was purchased. ("History of cheddar," ) The price of cheese was hence decreased gradually due to bulk purchase of milk by cheese makers.
Status means that the class position was determined by a person’s skills and education, prestige, social honor, or popularity in a society.
By status concept, American cheese turns from superior status to dairy products because of Jesse Williams. He created the first American cheese factory in 1851, in New York. It started as a father-son venture. Williams made commercial cheesemaking more viable and American cheese more reliably decent under rationalization system. The price of cheese becomes lower under mass production.
In the 1950's when convenience foods became popular. Processed cheese took the name "American" and the American cheese product we know today was born. They are made to mix with traditional dishes of different countries later. The acceptability of cheese was then greatly increased.
European expansion and later American influences are also generally credited for introducing cheese to Asia though cheese is still not considered as a usual staple in the regular diet of most Asian cultures.
The omnivore’s paradox embrace a concept that an omnivore cannot obtain all the nutrients it needs from one food. Therefore, omnivores need to try different food, in order to get necessary nutrients although risks are incurred.
There was no history and experience of cheese production or consumption in Asian before. Hence, when cheese was already entered the market for common use, it was still strange to Asian. However, the distances between countries are rapidly reducing under the globalized modern society. The culture of cheese – history and taste of cheese, spreads widely in Asia.
Cheese Consumption – (US Vs Asian countries)
When cheese was first introduced into Asia, consumers did not accept it, because of its sticky, soft texture. Some even regarded it disgusting that it looked like cow excrement. However, Asians have become more open-minded in recent years. Nowadays, from South Korea to China, Asian populations are adding American’s cheesy favorites like pizza and cheeseburgers to their diets.
Referring to figure, the export of American cheese was generally rising from 1999 to 2008. Starting from 2005 to 2008, the export even increased sharply in each year. This statistic suggests that there is an increased consumption of American cheese around the world. Moreover, shown by the data from U.S. Dairy Export Council (cited by Chappatta, B., 2011), the U.S. shipped more than twice as much to Asia in the first four months of 2011 as a year earlier. South Korea even tripled its imports.
According to Jon Spainhour, a broker and partner at Rice Dairy LLC, McDonalds planned to open 200 new outlets in China in 2011. He believes that although Asians traditionally had not been big cheese consumers but it is changing and that there will be many more cheeseburgers. (Chappatta, B., 2011) With the Support of his belief, we can observe that Asians are becoming more engaged in the cheese-eating habit and they are now major consumers of cheeseburgers as well. Therefore, ‘McDonaldization’ successfully helps to distribute American cheese in Asian countries.
With the spread of American cheese, Asians have started to mix it into their traditional food. For example, in sushi (Japan), in Tteokbokki (Korea) and in moon cakes (China). Although American cheese is ‘fusioned’ with the local food in Asia, the ingredients retain their own distinct appearance and taste.
On one hand, the fusion of Western and Eastern foods indicates the globalization of cheese. Cheese is applied in many dishes regardless of diverse ethnicities and identities, as a result of global communication and marketing. On the other hand, the concept of salad bowl is vivid. America is considered as salad bowl- where foreign-origin persons keep their separate identities and never assimilate (Bhattacharya, U. & Groznik, P., 2008). Its strong ties with other countries facilitate the spread of cheese but still, these countries maintain their own identities. In the mixing of American cheese in other cuisines, people try to make use of new ingredient from America (i.e. cheese) and put it into their typical food. Meanwhile, they still keep the identity and appearance of their food. For instance, cheese is only a small ingredient in a sushi to enhance the taste. When we see the sushi, we would still regard it a Japanese food, instead of American.
In figure, consumptions of cheese in selected countries such as America, Asia and European Union in recent years are summarized. As shown in the figure, there is a global incline of consumption of cheese.
The consumptions of cheese are expected to increase, so does American cheese. Although the origin of American cheese is America, the spread of it in recent years has led to an increased consumption in Asian countries. It is no longer restricted to an American typical food, but a food that can always be found across Asia. The food boundaries between countries are broken. Especially in Hong Kong, which is regarded as a “food paradise”, we can find as many as hundreds of types of cuisines.
However, regarding its consumption in Asian countries, divergent preferences are
expected among people of different ages. In the early age of older people, they may have never tried the taste of American cheese, due to the higher price of America food and the slower spread in early years. They may not accept this kind of American dairy product so they may consume less of it. While the younger generations are less conservative towards American food, they are more eager to try and eat American cheese.
Ways of cheese marketing (US Vs Asian countries)
In 20s, processed cheese was not that popular among European countries, advertisements of Cheese Company would mainly focused on giving information about an introduction of their cheese. They introduced how high quality, how tasty their cheese was. Marketing strategies mainly focused giving posters or fliers.
After people have had a basic understanding about cheese, Cheese Company started to launch advertisement on news and magazines "Cheese Company started to launch advertisement on news and magazines") . This way of marketing strategy can reduce ignorance of promotion and company were easy to select their type of target customers they wanted to reach by posting advertisement on different kinds of magazine.
Later on, Cheese Company also provided suggestions about what kind of food would match with their cheese "Suggestions about what kind of food would match with their cheese"). They offered and inspired alternative ways of tasting and enjoying cheese. Not only food, they also suggested a combination of drinks with cheese, for instance tea and wine "Suggestions about combination of drinks with cheese"). Which made a very popular ways of cheese tasting and it was welcomed by upper-class people in society as it is a show of life style and is a luxury enjoyment of cheese.
In addition, value adding was an important marketing strategy so as to increase loyalty of customers to satisfy the desire of buyers; they persuade customers that cheese is not only dairy product but also a food full of nutrients which makes children grow healthier and smarter( See figure "Cheese is full of nutrients which makes children grow healthier and smarter") .
They also created a perception of happiness during cheese eating. Therefore, customers were not only buying for meal but also buy for a healthy child and happiness.
Cheese marketing in Asian countries
The development of cheese in 20 century in Asian countries is not matured, taking China as an example; China had its reform in 1978 and had its quick economic development since 1989. We can find one of the cheese companies in China which started operating in 2000. We also find some posters posted in recent years.
In the early days, this company provides slide cheese and combines the cheese products with Chinese cartoon characters in order to attract local young customers. The slogan in the poster hits the dream of Chinese parents “giving
more nutrition to children and helping them for healthy growth”. Product of “Cheese for growth” is mainly focuses on children and teenagers. Product of “Fresh cheese” is focusing on youth but adults may also have this kind of cheese as it is fresh and so the whole family can enjoy having cheese together. These two products mainly concentrate on the middle-class customers and promote cheese to the next generation by saying cheese is healthy.
As cheese becomes popular, people are much familiar with cheese. There are also products of cheese showing how the cheese can be taken with other kinds of food. Pictures show how mozzarella cheese can be mixed with pizza. As there is a vigorous culture of imitating Western culture among Chinese businessmen, these kinds of products may let the upper-class people to enjoy cheese in a different way from the general public.
Figure "Combination of cheese and red dates in China" is found from a website for trades, the most representative part of this photo is the combination of both cheese and red dates together. Red date is one of the traditional foods in China which is mainly used in medical purpose. The combination of cheese and red dates shows people’s acceptation of cheese in China.
- Bhattacharya, U. & Groznik, P. (2008). Melting pot or salad bowl: Some evidence from U.S. investments abroad. Journal of Financial Markets, 11(3), 228-258. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cityu.edu.hk/10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.031
- Chappatta, B. (2011). Asia Pizza Demand Boosts U.S. Cheese Exports, Kraft’s Costs. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-14/pizza-demand-in-asia-boosts-u-s-cheese-exports-kraft-s-costs.html
- HistoryKing.com. (n.d.). History of Cheddar Cheese . Retrieved from http://www.historyking.com/miscellaneous/2010/7/History-of-Cheddar-Cheese.html
- The Nibble. (2005, September). The History Of Cheese. Retrieved 2010, March, from http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cheese/cheese2/cheese-history-2.asp
- U.S. Dairy Export Council (2011). Retrieved from http://www.usdec.org/Products/content.cfm?ItemNumber=82296&navItemNumber=82241
- USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) (2011). Dairy: World Markets and Trade. Retrieved from http://www.fas.usda.gov/htp/2011_Dec_Dairy.pdf
- World Dairy Products (n.d.). FAPRI 2006 Agricultural Outlook. Retrieved from http://www.dairyplanet.ca/imgs/chart-i.gif
- Wego (2012, October 20). Chinese Cheese. Retrieved from http://wego.cqcb.com/index.php?a=index&m=item&id=87897
- World of Cheese. (n.d.). The Cheese starts here. Retrieved from http://www.world-of-cheese.com/types-of-cheese.htm
- Buzzle. (n.d.). Different types of cheese. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/different-types-of-cheese.html