• Millennials Driving Cheese Innovation

    By Angelique Hollister June 28, 2016

    MillennialsCheese.jpgTraditional cheeses will always have a special bond with consumers, but cravings for cheese innovation is putting the spotlight on specialty and unique cheeses. Numerous recent industry reports show that consumers are buying more cheese, but their expectations are rising with every purchase and lifestyle decision.


    Rising cheese consumption

    The retail and foodservice industries are seeing major opportunities for cheese around the world. In America alone, the average consumer eats 34 pounds (15.4 kilograms) of cheese annually, a growth of 43% over the past 25 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Globally, retail cheese and foodservice are forecasted to increase over 2% within five years, according to Euromonitor International. When further comparing countries, Asia Pacific is predicted to see the largest growth in retail cheese by 5.5% CAGR through 2020.1 The Middle East and Africa are predicted to see the largest growth in chained foodservice by 5.8% CAGR through 2020.

    These categories are looking for innovative and custom cheeses to accommodate and attract the rise of artisan cheese eaters. As seen reported by Dairy Foods in 2015, more cheese products included higher protein levels, full-fat and flavor infusions. These features followed an uptick in consumers wanting transparency, sustainability and healthier food options from manufacturers. U.S. cheesemakers have responded by adapting their cheeses to better align with new consumer and customer demands.

    One particular consumer group has made a significant impression on the evolution of U.S. cheesemaking.

    Specialty cheeses appeal to millennials

    Millennials, consumers ages 18 to 34, are challenging brands to think outside the box. This generation is knowledgeable about food and often makes product choices from a list of specific considerations, according to IDDBA’s “What’s in Store 2016: Cheese Trends Forecast.” Their wants and needs have a large impact on the way products are produced, including flavor assortments, ingredient lists and packaging elements.

    Millennials’ adventurous lifestyles have resulted in a willingness to try new flavors. They often look to peers for product recommendations, with Mintel reporting that 65% of millennials like getting opinions from friends, family and influencers on foods to try. The report also states that the majority of millennials want new cheese options and more information on flavor profiles and pairings. This demonstrates that more millennials are willing to buy-in to change when given the right information to do so.

    Millennials also are willing to spend more on higher-quality eating experiences. Progressive Grocer coverage indicated they are more likely to visit the specialty cheese department than any other generation to look for authentic and natural options. Manufacturers can use this knowledge to produce cheese products using unique specialty cheeses that meet more than one industry trend. Cheese can contribute high-quality protein, convenience, flavor and texture. Snacks, for example, is a growing trend among millennials. Matching it with cheese will give millennials a nutritious, flavorful snack they are craving.

    Why U.S. Cheese

    The U.S. cheese industry has more than 600 varieties of cheese, and specialty cheese is the fastest growing segment of the American cheese market. With cheesemakers hard at work across the United States, every family of cheese has its own specialty cheese whether it’s a high-end versions of an every-day table cheese or a uniquely crafted cheese. As cheese consumption continues to grow around the world, the United States’ year-round milk supply, high-quality standards, technology and land equips the U.S. cheese industry to support this growth.

    For more information on the state of the cheese industry in the, visit ThinkUSAdairy.org.

    Market Insights Cheese Millennials Global
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