BELOIT, WIS. –  A recent international survey from Kerry found that consumers have “a deeply positive perception” of cheese flavors in savory snacks.

Among the 8,790 people surveyed, 62% said that cheese flavors make savory snacks more exciting. Per Kerry’s research, which also studied new product launch factors, cheese-flavored snacks outpaced the overall savory snack category in launching new products.

The results of the survey, which included shoppers from 16 countries in North America, Europe, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, showed that customers associate cheese flavors with indulgence, comfort and freshness. Kerry also noted significant variation existed in different regions of the world.

The survey found that 77% of consumers identified taste as the primary reason they “love cheese,” and preferences varied across markets and locations. Kerry’s research discovered that indulgence drives cheese purchases in Europe, and comfort does in the US, UK and South Africa. Meanwhile, in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Honduras, shoppers associate cheese with freshness.

The survey identified cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan as popular in North America and Europe.

Sensory research cited by Kerry also showed that taste perceptions associated with cheese differ, depending on a respondent’s location. People in Indonesia described cheese-flavored snacks as “buttery and mild,” while people in the UK associated them with being “strong and salty,” per Kerry.

Soumya Nair, the company’s director of global consumer research and insights, said snack producers can be “very creative” in blending traditional and new ideas with cheese flavors.

“Cheese is a truly cultural experience, shaped by different geographies, generations of rich culinary history, local ingredients and traditions,” Nair said. “Our research indicates that there is an opportunity to innovate in this space and bring new flavors to life across a variety of savory snacks. But cheese-flavored snacks also bring indulgence and a sense of adventure to consumers.”

She noted that roughly half of consumers surveyed said they look for creative additions to cheese-flavored snacks, such as herbs, spices and chili.

Complete findings from the international survey can be accessed online in an eBook available on Kerry’s website.