It’s an integral category of every dairy chiller, and a category that retailers can’t afford to miss out on.
by Iain Hoey
From sandwiches, paninis and afternoon snacks to pasta bakes and morning-after reheated breakfast pizza, there’s a place for cheese in many occasions. Whilst the staple for most is likely to be a mild, medium or mature block of cheddar, the cheese category is a diverse playing field and there is a lot of potential to make room for it to grow in convenience.
The volume of cheese being sold in the UK each year is rising, with 10,000kg more cheese being sold every month than the same time last year according to the latest report from AHDB Dairy. Whilst it is gratifying to note that the major multiples are taking a hit and their sales falling by 4%, it is the hard discounters that are undercutting the rest of the market by a third, picking up the sales growth, and bringing down the average sale price of cheese. So what should retailers be focusing on to make sure they’re not losing out?
The areas in biggest growth are soft continental cheeses, such as Brie and Emmental, and processed cheese products, like spreadables and string cheese. Cheddar still dominates the market with almost half of all cheese sales, but this can be further broken down. The cheddar market split is roughly two-thirds going towards branded cheddars and the remaining third going to independent, private labels, indicating a strong market for locally-produced cheeses.
One of the biggest growers within the cheese category is spreadables, with popular brands such as Cathedral City bringing its own Seriously Strong offering in a spreadable format. The Lactalis McLelland favourite is currently seeing promotion nationwide with a television marketing campaign championing the brand’s Scottish heritage with the tagline ‘The same great Scottish taste, just spreadable’.
Mike Chatters, Sales Director for Lactalis McLelland explains that the popularity of their spreadable product lead helped it break into the spreadable cheese portion segment to join the likes of ever-popular Dairylea and Laughing Cow. “The launch of the new Vintage variant last summer was closely followed by the roll out of Seriously Strong Spreadable Squares, which saw the brand tap into the portions segment for the first time,” Chatters says.
The other area of cheese showing significant growth, which is likely to be profitable for convenience, are snacking cheeses. Kerry Foods launched its new range entitled, GoGo’s, which offers adult shoppers the chance to snack on cheese bites alongside a range of delicious and nutritionally packed ingredient combinations, including dark chocolate covered coffee beans, pretzel sticks, seeded flapjacks and chorizo bites.
For kids comes Cheestrings Scoffies, a new ‘3-in-1’ snack solution. The new line-up includes three ‘mixable’ varieties, offering kids the exciting opportunity to ‘swap them’, ‘switch them’ and ‘save them’ as each pack has a convenient re-sealable tab.
“The cheese landscape is changing,” says Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondeléz International. “Snacking Cheese has been a success as it provides added value for shoppers looking for convenience.Nine out of ten households are buying in the subcategory each year, on average once a month.”