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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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