Convenience has been an important trend in cheese for a while – one example is that pre-sliced cheese has increased a lot recently. Producers have noticed this trend and their packaging is starting to increasingly adjust towards this.
Swedes care a lot about animal rights and welfare. Sweden has some of the world’s strictest animal welfare rules and it is therefore easy for producers to appeal to Swedish consumers by emphasising that their milk is Swedish.
Organic products have been popular in Sweden for many years – Swedes care a lot about their products being organic, both for health and environmental reasons. However, in the cheese category, there were not a lot of organic options until a few years ago.
Small, local dairies, which have been very popular in Sweden for some time now, benefit from the premium trend and Swedish consumers' concerns about animal rights. Eating products from a local dairy gives consumers a sense of luxury and at the same time a feeling of doing something that is good for the environment as well as the Swedish economy.
As there is currently more milk in the world than before, there is also more cheese, since cheese is a very good way of storing milk. This means that there will be some pressure on cheese and the prices of imported products will go down.
Private label has been growing in many packaged food categories, and cheese is no exception. All of the main food chains in Sweden now offer different varieties of cheese under private label.
Although the vegan trend has been around for a few years now, it began to show significant growth in 2017 and 2018. Politicians and celebrities are becoming vegan, influencing Swedes to choose vegan alternatives.
Fat-free milk is decreasing, whilst full fat milk is increasing. This is partly an expression of Swedes’ newfound lack of fear of fat, but it is mostly a result of the assortment of fat-free milks being so reduced.
Sweden is one of the countries with lowest share of lactose intolerance in the world, but, despite this, lactose free milk continues to register strong growth. Free from lactose milk is popular as it is considered healthier than regular milk, but its consumers are usually self-diagnosed.
For a long time, Valio has been the leader in the lactose free category, but in 2017 and 2018, it has been facing more competition in this area since dairies are adjusting their product processes as well as their assortments to meet the strong lactose trend that has hit Sweden in the past few years. In 2017, Grådö Dairy invested in a machine that produces 200,000 litres of lactose free milk per day and, in 2018, Skånemejerier as well as Falköpings Dairy launched new lactose free product lines.
In the early 1980s, there were approximately 40,000 dairy farmers in Sweden, today the number is 4,000. Technological developments and high price pressure have caused many small farmers to shut down their business, and dairies today have significantly higher production.
Arla, the largest milk producer in Sweden, has a new product line called “Summer Products”, which contains both cream and sour cream products, as well as regular milk products. In Sweden, there are regulations on how many hours per day milking cows have to be outdoors during the summer.
As in other dairy categories, the vegan trend is also strong in yoghurt. Sour milk is hard to imitate, so in this category, there are still no good vegan substitutes, but in the yoghurt category the expanding supply of vegan yoghurt, such as “soygurt” and “havregurt”, speaks for itself.
Because of Greek yoghurt's special character – thick yet not fat, and with a sour flavour – it is perfect for making sauces and condiments for dinner. Greek yoghurt has been on the market for several decades, but during the last few years the assortment has widened a lot and shops now offer similar alternatives, such as Russian yoghurt and Turkish yoghurt.
In 2012, there was an EU regulation that banned all marketing related to probiotic health claims. In spite of this regulation, Swedish brands keep positioning their products around digestive health.
Valio launched a new product line during 2018 called Oddlygood. This is a vegan brand, with plant-based yoghurt-like products.
As in many other dairy categories, private label is increasing in yoghurt and sour milk products. All the main grocery chains, ICA, Coop and Axfood, have their own lines represented in this category and they all offer drinking yoghurts as well as sour milk products.
Quark has been very popular in Sweden and reached its peak in 2016. Since then the trend has stagnated and in 2018 it even saw a decrease.
The trend of using more condensed milk started to grow a few years ago when bloggers and food influencers started using it more frequently in their home baking. This trend is persisting and is set to continue in the forecast period.
Traditionally, the most popular kind of coffee whitening product has been coffee cream and it has been a fairly small category, since most Swedes are happy with a drop of regular milk or cream in their coffee. Coffee whitening products usually last longer, come in smaller sizes and the fat content is somewhere between regular milk and cream.
Arla Foods remains the leader in other dairy, even though it is being challenged both by other big players, such as Skånemejerier and Norrmejerier, and smaller local dairies that have been enjoying strong demand from Swedish consumers who value locally produced and high-quality products. Arla Foods has many strong, well-established brands that most Swedes have known since they were young.
The strong demand for protein-enriched products has created an opportunity for new and smaller businesses. Other dairy has seen strong growth, especially in quark and fromage frais and chilled desserts, mostly thanks to the protein and fitness trend.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.