Cheese in Eastern Europe

December 2021

After the growth spike seen in the Eastern European cheese market in 2020, as a result of more home cooking due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2021 sales increase slowed to 2% in real value terms, with a 3% CAGR expected in the overall forecast period. Packaged hard cheese and soft cheese will make up the bulk of new sales over 2021-2026, while growth of HW cheese (eg reduced fat, free from lactose, organic) will continue to be more dynamic than non-HW cheese.

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Key Findings

Sales continue to grow during the pandemic

Having seen a growth spike during 2020 as consumers spent more time at home and ate more meals and snacks there due to the pandemic, the rate of growth in cheese slowed in 2021, as COVID-19 restrictions were being eased and consumers were spending less time at home.

Czechs keen on barbecue cheeses

Czechs love to barbecue and this has driven a growing trend for grilling camembert cheese, with this trend expected to extend to other types of cheese, including hard cheese, over the forecast period. Recent launches include Liptov Polostiepok na gril hard cheese from Savencia, Président Cheese Steak soft cheese by Lactalis and Milko Smoked Cheese Stick from Polabske Mlekarny.

Convenient products growing in popularity

Value-added products like grated cheese for pizza or sliced cheeses for sandwiches are growing in popularity in Russia, due to the convenience they offer. Curd (cream) cheese is also growing in popularity in Russia, as it is regarded as both healthy and natural. This is encouraging new product development, with Valio launching salmon and prawn flavours under its Viola brand and Karat introducing curd cheeses specifically for cooking, eg cheese “with onions”, “with mushrooms“, “with salmon“ etc.

Lactose-free cheese a potential growth area

With rising cases of lactose intolerance among Polish consumers, and lactose-free products selling four times as quickly as dairy products in the country, most leading players now offer lactose-free cheese in their portfolios, with Mlekovita offering popular cheese types Sokol, Gouda and Lavalti in packaged slices in lactose-free options, while Hochland offers all of its packaged hard cheese without lactose, including Gouda, Edam and Maasdam. The player also offers a lactose-free variant of its spreadable processed cheese brand Almette.



Key findings

Regional Overview

Eastern Europe recording strong growth over 2016-2021
Positive growth rates throughout 2016-2026 for Eastern Europe
Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic driving actual sales growth
Packaged hard cheese now outweighs unpackaged in Eastern Europe
Russian packaged hard cheese accounts for a third of new sales
Worsening performances seen in most countries in 2021
Modern grocery retailers continue to dominate cheese sales
E-commerce gains share, but remains a minor sales channel

Leading Companies and Brands

Private label continues gaining share in the Czech Republic
Leader Lactalis continues gaining ground
Russia and Poland the major revenue generators in the region
Président continues cementing its leadership in cheese

Forecast Projections

Cheese to see continued growth in Eastern Europe over 2021-2026
HW cheese products will continue seeing the most dynamic growth
Habit persistence will be a major growth driver

Country Snapshots

Belarus: Market Context
Belarus: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Market Context
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Bulgaria: Market Context
Bulgaria: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Croatia: Market Context
Croatia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Czech Republic: Market Context
Czech Republic: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Estonia: Market Context
Estonia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Georgia: Market Context
Georgia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Hungary: Market Context
Hungary: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Latvia: Market Context
Latvia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Lithuania: Market Context
Lithuania: Competitive and Retail Landscape
North Macedonia: Market Context
North Macedonia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Poland: Market Context
Poland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Romania: Market Context
Romania: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Russia: Market Context
Russia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Serbia: Market Context
Serbia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Slovakia: Market Context
Slovakia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Slovenia: Market Context
Slovenia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Ukraine: Market Context
Ukraine: Competitive and Retail Landscape


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