Although it is, ahem, ripe, the market for specialty cheese, while mature, is still expected to grow. Which is good news for those independent retailers who stock bries, blues and cheddars.
According to the U.S. Food Market Outlook 2019, a report released by the market research firm Packaged Facts, retail dollar sales of the U.S. natural and specialty cheese market reached $16 billion in 2018. Sales increased at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 2.4% between 2013 and 2018. Volume sales grew at about the same average annual rate as dollars.
Looking ahead, Packaged Facts projects retail dollar sales of the natural and specialty cheese market will grow 2.5% to exceed $18 billion in 2023.
“The natural and specialty cheese market is relatively mature, yet Americans’ love of cheese and the wider availability of quality cheeses at more affordable prices have helped drive growth,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.
Sprinkle adds that health and nutrition are key trends driving the market, but most people love cheese because it tastes good.
In other good news for independent gourmet and kitchenware stores who carry high-end cheeses, premium and specialty cheese should continue to outperform the market since cheese is indulgent and many Americans have expanded beyond traditional favorites, cheddar and mozzarella, to full-flavored, higher-priced products.
A number of marketing strategies are driving those sales, the report says:
• Marketers are helping drive cheese sales by promoting natural cheese as nutritious and good tasting, despite its high fat content.
• Marketers have been addressing consumer health and diet concerns with better tasting reduced salt and fat cheeses, as well as organic cheeses and cheeses made from healthier milk.
• Natural cheese marketers also tout the wholesomeness of their products, in contrast to processed cheese.
• Natural cheese sales continue to benefit from the snacking trend, especially with parents driving sales of the convenient forms (cheese sticks) for their kids.
Source: Packaged Facts U.S. Food Market Outlook 2019