MONTREAL - Wal-Mart Stores in the United Kingdom have just launched a cheddar cheese that claims actually to reduce artery-clogging fat.
Called Heartfelt Plus Natural Cheese, it's enhanced with an ingredient called Reducol, made by Forbes Medi-Tech of Vancouver, British Columbia. Reducol is a phytosterol that contains plant extracts which have been shown to help people lower their cholesterol in clinical trials.
In addition, the cheese has a fat content of 12% compared to regular cheddar which usually has a fat content ranging from 30% to 40%. The Heartfelt cheese also tastes like real cheese compared to other low-fat cheeses that are usually made with vegetable oil, according to Charles Butt, Medi-Tech's chief executive officer.
"It certainly offers a great alternative to traditional low-fat cheeses, which have been poor tasting and poor in texture," he said. "Reducol could be expanded into other cheese categories, but right now we're concentrating on cheddar."
Heartfelt Plus is a branded dairy product created by Fayrefield Foods in the U.K. Wal-Mart introduced the line as part of an upgrade of the cheese section in stores in early May, the retailer's U.K. spokesman, Ed Watson, told SN.
"The line is merchandised in our natural cheese fixtures and is displayed with our 'Good for You' and 'Organic' own label product ranges. We are currently running a four-week trial price of 1.28 pounds [$2.38 U.S.] for a 200-gram block, down from the ongoing 1.98 pounds [$3.68] retail price. We plan to run tasting events over the summer months in our stores to encourage product trial. Heartfelt is available in all our 305 stores."
Low-fat cheeses represent a small part of the overall cheese category, estimated to be worth about $1 billion in the U.K.
A spokeswoman at Wal-Mart Stores' headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., did not know if or when the product would be available at its U.S. stores.
"At this time, we do not have plans [to carry the line]," Karen Burke said. "However, we will continue to evaluate whether we believe it is something that the majority of our customers will want to purchase. Customer demand is the deciding factor for what we put on our shelves and we will certainly continue to evaluate the situation for the future."