Cheese in Latin America

January 2022

Retail value sales of cheese slowed markedly in 2021, following the year-earlier growth spike due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), but remained at higher levels than prior to the pandemic. Although the pandemic has hit some consumers’ disposable incomes, cheese is still seen as a relatively affordable source of protein in many countries and will be recording positive growth rates over the forecast period.

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Key Findings

Growth slows as the pandemic’s impact lessens

Home seclusion and foodservice closures saw growth in sales of cheese spike in 2020, when the COVID-19 virus arrived in the region. Cheese was being increasingly used at home as a cooking ingredient or snack, helping to drive sales of this product across much of the region. With society learning to live with the virus and vaccination programmes rolling out, growth in retail sales of cheese slowed in 2021, albeit remaining well above pre-pandemic levels.

Dynamic soft cheese growth in Brazil

Soft cheese has been recording very strong growth in Brazil during the pandemic, favoured not only for its low prices but also for its versatility – for example soft cheese can be consumed with bread for breakfast and in snacks or used in the preparation of meals. Brands such as Sadia and Quatá were also able to retail at highly competitive on-shelf prices for mozzarella in key channels, helping to reinforce their appeal as cost-effective offerings.

E-commerce remains a minor distribution channel

Although it recorded strong growth during the pandemic, e-commerce still only has a very small presence in the retail distribution of cheese, accounting for less than 2% of regional sales in 2021. Independent small grocers and supermarkets/hypermarkets remain the biggest distribution channels, with store-based grocery retailers as a whole making up 96% of retail sales in 2021.

Packaged hard cheese to be most dynamic in Mexico

Packaged hard cheese will record the strongest growth over the forecast period in Mexico. Demand for packaged cheese will be driven by increasing appreciation of the convenience of this format, particularly among consumers with busy lifestyles as they return to their daily routines in terms of work or school. Players are likely to continue to introduce more convenient sliced or grated products such as squared slices to fit sandwich bread and rounded slices to fit tortillas.


Key findings

Regional Overview

Latin American historic period CAGR pulled up by 2020 sales spike
Improving year-on-year growth rates expected over the forecast period
Mexico and Brazil the main contributors to new sales in 2016-2021
Soft and hard cheese turn in similar 2016-2021 performances
Soft cheese in Brazil the biggest contributor to new sales in 2016-2021
Growth slows in 2021 after the pandemic-induced sales spike in 2020
Grocery retailers unsurprisingly dominate regional cheese sales
E-commerce gains share in the pandemic but remains a minor channel

Leading Companies and Brands

Cheese is very fragmented at a regional level in Latin America
Groupe Lactalis remains the leading cheese player in the region
Single-market players predominate in Latin America’s top 10
Argentinian brands La Paulina and La Serenísima move up the rankings

Forecast Projections

Improving growth rates expected for cheese throughout 2021-2026
Reformulations may be needed to meet Mexican labelling regulations
Rising GDP and expanding populations

Country Snapshots

Argentina: Market Context
Argentina: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Bolivia: Market Context
Bolivia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Brazil: Market Context
Brazil: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Chile: Market Context
Chile: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Colombia: Market Context
Colombia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Costa Rica: Market Context
Costa Rica: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Dominican Republic: Market Context
Dominican Republic: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Ecuador: Market Context
Ecuador: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Guatemala: Market Context
Guatemala: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Mexico: Market Context
Mexico: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Peru: Market Context
Peru: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Uruguay: Market Context
Uruguay: Competitive and Retail Landscape


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