Impact of the Pandemic on the Cheese Market
Lockdown policies around the world led to sudden changes throughout milk and cheese supply chains as many consumers replaced dining out with at-home eating. Foodservice cheese sales dropped while retail sales surged. Consumers’ interest in home cooking, comfort foods, and snacking rose, while health (including healthy eating) became a new priority as consumers sought to protect themselves against COVID.
Fortunately, cheese producers and retailers have found a variety of strategies to meet consumers’ new needs, with the inherent versatility, nutrition, and value of cheese playing a major role in their success. As we enter the recovery phase, expect that many of these strategies will remain on-trend as they continue to address consumers’ essential needs.
Top 2021 Global Cheese Market Trends
Here’s a look at the top five global cheese market trends for 2021:
1. New Product Development
New product innovation is expected to be a major theme for the cheese industry this year, carrying through from 2020. Mintel reports global new cheese launches rose 11% last year, with the U.S. leading with 10% of new cheese launches, followed by France and Germany.1 Retailers have been the most active here, with discount retailers Lidl and Aldi accounting for the largest share of new cheese products last year, each at 4%.2
2. Private Label
Economic uncertainty and the rise in unemployment have made many consumers more cost-conscious when shopping, including grocery shopping. These concerns are boosting private label cheese sales as consumers seek the best value for their money. In some markets—such as Canada, France, and the U.S.—private label dominates in cheese, accounting for over half of their national cheese markets by volume.3 Private label is a key growth opportunity for cheese converters willing to proactively innovate and collaborate to support private label accounts.
3. Bringing Value to Home Cooks
The surge in home cooking (both as a hobby and a necessity) has generated a flurry of interest in recipes of all types, ranging from quick and easy to healthy to gourmet. The versatility of cheese in formats and flavors has made it a perfect fit for this trend. Cheese brands are supporting home cooks through recipes, social media engagement, and marketing campaigns around hosting at-home and holiday meals. Offering ideas on using leftovers to minimize food waste also provides value.