Last year there were 5.6 billion cheese occasions, an increase of 1% on last year

More than two thirds are accounted for by Cheddar

Just over a third of cheese is eaten at lunch

Cheese is mainly consumed for enjoyment with about half eaten for this reason

Indulgence with healthy associations

Lunch is still the meal most likely to feature cheese with just over a third eaten then. Evening meal and lunchbox are the next most popular occasions at 23% and 17% respectively. The most significant growth in consumption has been in the lunchbox, up 8% year-on-year, with cheese the nation's favourite sandwich filling. With trends moving away from traditional lunchbox items such as crisps and chocolate, cheese snacks are in an ideal position to capitalise.

Cheese is eaten because it is a favourite on a third of occasions, while enjoyment is the main reason for consumption across the board. Feta cheese is the only offering that bucks the trend with a quarter eaten as a healthy choice. Cheese is not normally consumed for health reasons but it benefits from association with more healthily perceived items such as salad and crispbreads.

Cheese is universally eaten across all demographics but there are differences for the various types. Snack cheese is almost completely consumed by children, blue cheese and Stilton are mainly consumed by adults, while feta cheese has a large bias towards females.

Rory Partis