As you browse the cheese section at the grocery store, you may notice little, circular Babybel cheeses.
After comparing the prices of the nearby selections, you will likely notice that Babybel costs more.
Babybel is so expensive because of its French heritage and reputation, along with its marketing and sustainability practices. Babybel also produces high-quality milk from local and highly-regulated farms for the best product. The cheese comes in a wax wrap and is lactose-free, offering consumers a convenient, individually wrapped, healthy snack, in a variety of options.
The ten factors below take a closer look at the factors that make Babybel a more expensive cheese.
1. French Heritage
French cuisine is known for pairing wine with high-quality cheeses. Soft cheeses were created in France by The Bel Group in the mid-1900s. They made Babybel cheese, a French version of Dutch Edam cheese that offers a salty, sweet, semi-hard, and smooth taste.
The company moved to Kentucky, purchasing a cheese plant to make their products. In 1977, the company introduced the smaller version called Mini Babybel which is what we have come to snack on today.
These snack cheeses come in a netted bag, individually wrapped in a red wax coating, much like a rind.
France is seen as a place of luxury and top-quality products, including cheese. This reputation suggests that the cheese should cost more due to its French roots. Therefore, people will pay more.
2. Packaging: Wax Coating, Plastic, Netting
Each piece of Babybel cheese is wrapped in wax and then an outer plastic coating. Then, the cheese is put into a set inside a netted bag.
This is more packaging than what you may see other cheeses in at the grocery store.
The uniqueness of the red wax coating, or rind, around the cheese adds to the flair and sophistication of the cheese. This wax is made from a red-dye mixture of food-grade paraffin and microcrystalline waxes.
This food-safe wax must meet regulatory standards since there is a chance that consumers may eat remnants of it.
The process of making the wax according to food-safe regulations, forming it on the individual cheeses, and wrapping them each in plastic and packaging materials requires labor and machinery.
This all uses money and adds up for the consumer to absorb the cost.
The signature wax coating and plastic wrap around the cheese make it a great way to transport the individual cheeses as a snack.
The circular shape of Babybel cheese fits easily inside lunch totes, bento boxes, and more for a healthy dose of protein and calcium.
Additionally, consumers save time when packing lunches with Babybel cheese. There is no need to cut them up or wrap them in a container to keep the surface clean.
People generally are willing to pay more for convenience.
4. Lactose-Free Milk Product
Lactose-free products are gaining popularity. By eating lactose-free products, consumers can benefit from the nutrients in dairy products without the digestive discomforts that can come with consuming them.
For example, in Southeast Asia, 98% or higher of the population are lactose intolerant. While this varies from country to country, a lactose-free product will offer more people the opportunity to buy their products.
When companies create a product that more people can eat, sales will go up.
To make a lactose-free product, a fermenting system to remove lactose is utilized. This requires extra steps and more equipment and money to do so.
To avoid physical discomfort, those that are lactose-intolerant may pay more so that they too can enjoy cheese.
5. Dairy Cow Farming And Quality Of Milk
The company works with local farms near their business that are using sustainable farming practices. Local farms reduce the time that milk is transported and supports the local economy.
This collaboration requires that the farmers follow workforce standards and that the cows are fed locally sourced food, such as hay, corn, and soy.
Any farms that produce milk for the company must follow The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program (FARM), which requires the highest standard of care for dairy animals.
This includes that the farmers do not use growth hormones and that stall sizes are regulated.
Babybel also offers organic varieties of their product. As a result, organic practices are more expensive to maintain and regulate.
Knowing that Babybel uses fresh and regulated milk, the costs of this will raise the final price. Additionally, people may willingly pay more for Babybel knowing that the animals are treated with optimal care.
There are many steps and processes to produce Babybel cheese.
In addition to equipment for making packaging materials, these include the following:
- Milking the cows
- Transporting the milk to the factory for fermentation
- Waiting for fermentation to be complete, forming curds (1 to 5 days)
- Putting the curds into circular molds
- Brine the cheese in salt water
- Coat the cheese in red wax
- Finish packaging
- Ship to stores
The production time involves labor, machines and maintenance, sanitation, and more to bring quality and safe products to consumers.
The costs of this are offset in the consumer price.
The company is working on making home-compostable packaging and inks. They also use 100% recycled or certified cardboard for shipping. They utilize practices to upcycle, recycle, and use leftover cheese products for other products.
Any practices that require a change in packaging and materials as well as properly disposing of waste costs the company more.
8. Variety Of Products
Babybel cheese comes in a variety of options such as cheddar, light, vegan, and more.
As a result, different labeling, recipes, and resources are used to make each type of product. Therefore, the variable cost of operations will be higher.
New product development requires research, recipes, and testing to offer consumers more options. This requires costs of money, marketing, and resources.
9. Nutrition: A Healthy Option
A lactose-free snack with calcium and protein without filler ingredients offers a healthy option.
Healthy snacks tend to cost more than filler junk foods, due to the quality of ingredients. The appeal of a “cleaner” snack may have families willing to spend more.
Additionally, individually wrapped Babybel offers consumers portion control. Portion control helps consumers from overeating and enjoying a tasty treat without the excess calories.
People may find that spending more to have portion control is well worth the cost.
As is true with many businesses, the cost of marketing is absorbed into overall costs. These may include in-store advertisements, commercials, billboards, and more.
Marketing must also cater to the language and culture of the countries in which the product is sold.
For example, in 2020, Babybel joined Havas advertising in launching the global campaign “Join the Goodness” to promote balanced diets and better eating habits. This initiative costs money to implement.
Babybel focuses on sustainability improvements from the farms to production to packaging in a red wax peel.
Its French reputation, lactose-free milk, and variety of offerings give consumers a high-quality and healthy snack. These are factored into the total cost.
Babybel’s marketing and efforts to maintain the highest standards also contribute to an expensive price tag.