Continental cheeses now represent the fastest-growing sector of the total cheese market, up 9% year-on-year [TNS 52 w/e September 11, 2005].
And the story is one of a continuing increase in consumer penetration.
The main drivers behind this growth are Brie, Feta and Mozzarella, with about 500,000 more households now buying into the sector than in the preceding year, says TNS.
According to Italian cheese manufacturer Galbani, there has been a 10% increase in sales of all varieties of Italian cheese this year alone across the multiples.
In the new year, Galbani is launching its latest product, Santa Lucia Mascarpone Light, a low-fat cheese that it claims does not compromise on quality or taste.
According to Tony Reid, senior product manager at French cheese giant Lactalis, its Brie, a relatively mature sector, is still enjoying penetration growth, up 20% in the latest year, and is now bought by a quarter of households.
Categories such as Camembert, ewes’ and goats’ milk cheeses are also enjoying double-digit penetration growth overall as consumers who have entered the market through Brie and Emmental branch out into more adventurous areas, as well as widening their uses beyond the dinner party cheeseboard.
Reid says: “Evidence for this latter point comes in the growth of our sliced varieties of Emmental and Brie, including the success of last year’s Président Brie slices. Feedback from recent consumer focus group research reveals that Emmental is now an accepted cheese as a change from Cheddar for everything from omelettes to soufflé.”
In addition, Continental cheese is continuing its successful diversification into convenience and snacking formats.
Arla Foods’ Discover.. brand continues to drive category growth with the launch of a new range of
crumbled Feta cheeses. Produced as toppings for salads, pizzas and jacket potatoes, the range complements all the conventional uses for Feta, as well as opening up a new category extension - Feta Infusions.
Michael Evans, Discover.. brand manager, says that the tomato & basil and jalapeno variants in particular are proving popular.
“Discover.. continues to drive the category, creating consumer standout on shelf and giving consumers inspirational ideas for convenient meals.”
Sally Clarke, national account
manager at Sopexa’s Fine Cheeses From France campaign, adds: “Manufacturers have a huge opportunity to position cheese as the original fast food.”
Clarke says that more added value products to suit the convenience-led consumer, such as Soignon goats’ cheese slices from Eurial-Poitouraine, topped with herbs and spices, ready for grilling and serving on salad or bread, need to be developed.
Continental cheese producers have earmarked Christmas as a prime time for sales as a result of consumers wanting something extra special for when entertaining guests. “Diversity and choice are key drivers in the cheese market, especially during Christmas, and French cheese pulls in the crowds with something to woo everyone,” says Clarke. “Must-stock items are French Brie, Camembert and Le Roulé, plus classic blues such as Roquefort and St Agur.”
Lactalis is extending its seasonal offering with a novelty 220g ‘rock crystal’ box - a classic Roquefort cheese matured in the Baragnaudes cave - and a triple pack of three Roqueforts matured in the Baragnaudes and Templiers caves.
Galbani is also set to join the fray with its Santa Lucia Crocarelle Mozzarella with ham and its Indulgenza Mascarpone and Amaretto exclusively for Christmas.