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Opportunities for Cheese in Slowing Mature Markets – Thinking Outside The Box

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Despite a slowing global food industry and static European growth in 2015, plenty of opportunity still exists in faster growing innovative categories and for well positioned premium products. As personalised and artisanal consumption gradually becomes mainstream, more potential within the cheese industry will be possible. Innovation in the food industry has led to a great number of successful new products, yet cheese has historically been more conservative. Especially in mature cheese regions of Western Europe and North America, where over half of global cheese sales are generated, the industry could do with the sort of innovation that Greek yoghurt has been to the US yoghurt market to drive value growth.

By looking at consumer trends of tomorrow, new occasions can be found for cheese where packaging can play a key role in communicating new consumption occasions. Showing how cheese can be consumed is more effective than simply stating it and therefore facilitates the purchase decision.

Largest regions show slow down in cheese


Source: Euromonitor International

Raising the bar with cheese – creating new consumption moments

cheese bar

Source: SealedAir

A concept by global packaging company SealedAir that capitalises really well on creating new consumption moments is the idea of a premium cheese bar. This could be any typical hard cheese type such as Gouda or Cheddar that is presented through a ‘chocolate bar’ format.

In this way, the cheese directly shows another occasion to consume cheese, namely, instead of confectionery such as chocolate. Of course, at first this is quite an absurd idea, but true innovations start here. If cheese can be presented in a premium snackable format that at the same time offers a nutritional benefit (e.g. protein) over confectionery – the concept holds potential. Especially with increased interest in natural food, that is high in protein and is also indulgent, cheese can offer a great alternative.

Take chocolate tablets for example, this category has grown by US$54 million in the UK over 2014 and 2015, benefiting from consumers’ renewed interest in premium chocolate, with the likes of Lindt and Green & Black's. Cheese on the other hand has grown by little over half of that, whilst it could be an alternative premium offering to these sorts of products.

Of course if it is competing with snacks, the limitation to this kind of product would be the need for refrigeration in the supermarket aisle. If it cannot be placed directly next to confectionery to get consumers thinking of switching, then perhaps the dessert/yoghurt and chilled wine aisles offer an alternative.

Cross branding cheese with wine in educational/playful format


Source: SealedAir

Technology and home-delivery services are enabling consumers to “cocoon” in their home. Cocooning refers to creating a comfortable environment at home and entertaining domestically. This is lessening the need to go out and creates an opportunity for the food and drinks industry. Instead of going out for a drink, consumers instead can opt to drink wine at home which frees up a significant budget that can be spent on snacks that pair well with wine, such as cheese. Indeed, for the Western European and North American average, the gap between the prices paid for wine at the retail store versus on-trade is widening and in the case of North-America the gap is as large as four times the price of retail wine.


Source: Euromonitor International

Pairing cheese with wine through the retail channel allows cheese manufacturers to benefit from up-trading in wine purchases. In fact, two thirds of global wine sales are generated in cheese mature regions of Western Europe and North America. Whilst the concept of pairing cheese with wine is not new, manufacturers have to find creative ways of communicating this message to consumers and persuade them to consume cheese instead of other foods. SealedAir’s packaging concept of pairing cheese and wine capitalises on this opportunity by creating playful packaging that communicates to the consumers how their favourite cheese (or wine) can be consumed

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