Cheese in Western Europe

January 2022

Cheese sales, after receiving significant impetus in 2020 due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), continued to grow in real value terms in 2021. Sales remain above pre-pandemic levels as consumers were still cooking and eating more at home than usual as lockdowns and foodservice closures continued into 2021. Trends towards HW products like organic or free-from cheese or consumers looking for local provenance in their cheese products will continue to be seen over the forecast period in Western Europe.

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Key Findings

Growth slows in 2021 after the spike in demand in 2020

The region as a whole, as well as most of its countries, saw stronger retail value sales growth in 2020, as consumers were cooking and eating more at home due to lockdowns and foodservice closures. While growth slowed significantly in 2021, it was still positive, with some of the changes seen a year earlier persisting into the new year, given the continued presence of the COVID-19 virus in the region.

Health trend continues to be seen in cheese

Consumers in many Western European countries continue to be attracted by HW products in cheese, such as organic or free-from cheese varieties. In Germany, vegan variants of cheese are becoming increasingly popular. In addition to Groupe Bel’s Nurishh vegan range, which, like many cheese alternatives, uses coconut oil as its base, there are other possibilities for emerging alternatives such as Frescolat’s plant-based mozzarella, which uses wholemeal rice.

Provenance growing in importance in France

Among French consumers, there is an increasing interest in and demand for regional “authentic” products, with easily traceable provenance. French consumers are keener than ever to support local farmers in the wake of the pandemic, and domestic dairy products are increasingly visible in stores.

Positive growth expected for cheese

Cheese is expected to record positive growth rates in the coming years, becoming slightly stronger annually as the forecast period progresses. France, the major cheese market in Western Europe, will account for almost a third of the overall gains made in the region in 2021-2026, although Spain will also be a major contributor to new sales, with local consumers discovering new ways to use cheese. Like Spain, Turkey will also see dynamic percentage growth, albeit from a relatively small sales base.


Key findings

Regional Overview

Western Europe the top region for sales and per capita consumption
Further growth expected for cheese over the forecast period
Turkey sees dynamic growth over 2016-2021
Packaged hard cheese and soft cheese drive growth in Western Europe
Packaged hard cheese accounts for most new sales in 2016-2021
Growth slows in 2021 after the sales spike seen in 2020
Modern grocery retailers dominate cheese sales in Western Europe
E-commerce remains a minor distribution channel

Leading Companies and Brands

Private label continues gaining share during the pandemic
Groupe Lactalis continues to lead regional cheese sales
Arla most heavily present in the Scandinavian markets
No changes in the brand rankings for cheese across 2016-2021

Forecast Projections

Further growth expected for cheese in Western Europe
Organic and free-from products to see dynamic growth
Turkey to continue seeing dynamic growth in sales of cheese

Country Snapshots

Austria: Market Context
Austria: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Belgium: Market Context
Belgium: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Denmark: Market Context
Denmark: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Finland: Market Context
Finland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
France: Market Context
France: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Germany: Market Context
Germany: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Greece: Market Context
Greece: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Ireland: Market Context
Ireland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Italy: Market Context
Italy: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Netherlands: Market Context
Netherlands: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Norway: Market Context
Norway: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Portugal: Market Context
Portugal: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Spain: Market Context
Spain: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Sweden: Market Context
Sweden: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Switzerland: Market Context
Switzerland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Turkey: Market Context
Turkey: Competitive and Retail Landscape
UK: Market Context
UK: Competitive and Retail Landscape


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