The rate of cheese sales growth has slowed this year as shoppers reconsider how much they buy.

Volume sales were up just 0.3% in the 52 weeks to 7 September [TNS], though price inflation pushed value up 12.1% to £2.16bn in the same period. Two years ago volumes increased at a rate of 2.4%. Sales of Cheddar, which remains the dominant cheese with 54% of the market, were up by a slightly more impressive 1.5% in volume but those of Continental cheese rose 3.1%.

Consumers were favouring smaller pack sizes as money became tighter, said Co-op cheese category buyer Mark Cloudy. "It's all about 250g instead of 400g now," he said.

Shoppers were thinking about reducing food waste, added Sainsbury's senior cheese buyer Helen Bissell. "Consumers are hesitant about filling their fridges with excess food," she said.

See Focus On Cheese, p51