man and woman eating cheese

Global Cheese Market Trends for 2021

With the pandemic reshaping consumer shopping, cooking, and eating patterns, cheese producers across the globe are rising to the challenge, responding in creative ways to meet the needs of the moment. Explore the top cheese trends of 2021 and see what’s ahead for the global cheese market.

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.

parents and child grating cheese

4. Cheese Snacks

One of the most exciting cheese trends globally is the expansion of cheese snacks, which can look very different depending on the region. While U.S. consumers can buy innovative cheese snacks like 100% cheese bites, crisps, and bars in a variety of flavors and seasonings, Chinese consumers are enjoying drinkable cheese pouches. In Japan, consumers can get their protein and calcium through “candy cheese”—tiny, single-serve snacking cheeses individually wrapped like candy.

Download our Cheese Snacking Trends Guide

5. Vegan Cheese

As consumer interest in all things plant-based continues to grow, so too does the demand for vegan cheese. From blocks to slices to shreds, there’s now a plant-based cheese for every occasion. While health and sustainability benefits have traditionally been important drivers of vegan cheese purchases, we can now add culinary adventure to the list. Artisanal offerings like Miyoko’s cashew cheeses and fun-flavored plant-based cheeses like Spero’s sunflower cream cheese line especially appeal to home cooks looking to recreate the restaurant experience.

Choosing the Cheeses that Please 

Companies that keep up with global cheese market trends are sure to find a number of opportunities that can work for them and their consumers. When it comes to choosing the right cheeses to please today’s consumers—through flavor, versatility, convenience, or nutrition—trust Glanbia Nutritionals to provide the quality and variety you need. For all your cheese needs, get in touch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Healthy snacking cheese is cheese in a convenient, portable format, available in a small serving size, that delivers nutritional or even functional benefits. Healthy snacking cheeses range from traditional string cheese that comes individually wrapped to next-gen cheese snacks like baked or dried 100% cheese bars, puffs, and crisps. 

While all cheese is known for the nutritional benefits of protein and calcium, some newer snacking cheeses in the market (“plus” cheeses) also offer extra nutrients like vitamins A and B12 or functional ingredients like probiotics. In addition, some healthy snacking cheeses come in exciting sweet or savory flavors, while others are paired with nuts, dried fruits, meats, and crackers in combo packs.

Some of the best food sources of vitamin D, according to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are certain types of fish (such as freshwater rainbow trout (645 IU per serving), salmon (383-570 IU), and canned light tuna (231 IU)), as well as raw mushrooms (114-1110 IU), and fortified dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese (85-117 IU).

In fact, most of the vitamin D in Americans’ diets comes from fortified foods and beverages. Today, there is a wide variety of vitamin D-fortified products to help boost intake of this shortfall nutrient—from plant-based milks to breakfast cereals to nutrition bars.

Healthy snacks to eat at night are foods that are convenient, nutritious, and keep you full through the night. Snacks that contain protein or fiber are especially effective at providing satiety. Examples of healthy nighttime snacks are protein bars and bites, yogurts, and snacking cereals with added fiber or protein.


1-2. Mintel, The Future of Cheese: 2021, January 2021.
3. Mintel, Cheese Category Review, January 2021.

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