We Brits have a longstanding love affair with Cheddar and the category now makes up slightly more than 50% of all cheese sales and is growing at 3.6% year-on-year [TNS].
Branded mature Cheddars are the primary drivers of growth and the number one cheese brand, Cathedral City, has grown 18% to £97m.
Pilgrims Choice benefited from an extensive marketing campaign earlier this year and is now the UK’s number two Cheddar brand, according to TNS.
Innovation is a key growth driver in a market as mature as Cheddar and, along with countless developments in snacking and convenience across the board, the number three Cheddar brand, Seriously Strong Cheddar, now owned by Lactalis, is set to launch its new spreadable format in the new year.
Meanwhile, West Country Farmhouse Cheese Makers reports a 20% increase in the sale of its Protected Designation of Origin Cheddars in the past year, which, according to a spokeswoman, indicates that consumers are becoming as interested in authenticity and quality as they are in price.
Aside from Cheddar, anybody who attended this year’s Great British Cheese Festival, which drew nearly 200 different cheesemakers to Cheltenham’s Imperial Gardens, will not have failed to notice that the territorials are now packing a mighty punch in the cheese fray. TNS data shows that the British territorials market has grown 6.1% to £199m.
“Today’s consumers are better travelled and have more sophisticated tastes,” says Lorraine Beaton, director of Bridgehead Food Partners. “They want interesting cheese for cheeseboards, exciting cheese in recipes and cheese that is produced locally.”
Colin Hall, owner of Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, attributes some of the rising interest in territorials to the likes of celebrity chefs Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver, who have encouraged people to try new cheeses and support British dairies.
Rob Evans, national accounts manager at Joseph Heler, the UK’s largest independent producer of regional cheese, says: “As Continental cheese becomes more mainstream, regional varieties can bring some colour, taste and texture to meals. Consumers are experimenting with stronger-tasting cheese as well as speciality cheese.”
Consumers are also showing increased interest in cheeses with added ingredients and this sector is growing at 7% annually to £72m, according to The