Renewed consumer interest in different kinds of cheeses as well as a focus on local cheese varieties have encouraged retailers to expand their cheese departments beyond traditional fare, according to the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's (IDDBA) 29th annual "What's in Store 2015" trends report.
According to Mary Kay O'Connor, VP education, IDDBA, Millennials represent a particularly important demographic for the cheese industry, as they increasingly demand a wider spectrum of flavors and varieties compared to older generations.
“[Millennials are] also more likely to visit the specialty cheese department than Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation,” O'Connor said. “Given the rise in snacking as a prominent eating occasion and the interest in consuming more protein, specialty cheese is well-aligned to position itself as a unique snack category that’s both healthy and indulgent.”
Added Jennifer Giambroni, director of communications, California Milk Advisory Board: “Millennials are tech savvy, food savvy, and environmentally conscious—all things affecting their purchase decisions. They want to connect with brands completely—it’s about the total experience that doesn’t stop the minute they purchase a cheese at retail.”
Among other highlights of IDDBA's findings:
- Consumers are seeking bold, aged, flavors, but they also want clean labels and to know where their cheese is from.
- Millennials are a key demographic for specialty cheese. They like experiential shopping experiences and are adventuresome consumers when it comes to new cheeses.
- Cheese is a great source of protein for customers. Highlighting cheese’s protein content can further position it as a part of a healthy diet.
- In the United States, the cheese category is positioned to grow 25 percent through 2018—to more than $27 billion.
- Globally, the retail cheese market is expected to grow to over $138 billion by 2018.
IDDBA is a nonprofit membership organization serving the dairy, deli, bakery, cheese and supermarket foodservice industries.