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Cheese: Natural & Specialty Cheeses in the U.S. & Global Markets

  • March 2014
  • -
  • Packaged Facts
  • -
  • 224 pages

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(Almost) everybody loves cheese: 90% of adults surveyed by Packaged Facts say they eat it. Adults and kids eat it at home, in restaurants, and when they snack on-the-go throughout the day. They prefer natural over processed cheese, perceiving the natural product as healthier and more nutritious. Consumption of natural cheese in all forms and markets has increased over the last 10 years, while processed cheese has declined.

Total U.S. retail sales of natural and specialty cheeses were $15.7 billion in 2013. The overall market is mature, with sales growing by a CAGR of only 3% since 2009. The recession took a toll on cheese volume sales, as did higher pricing in some years, which drove some of the market dollar growth posted.

Nonetheless, key segments of the cheese market will continue their momentum. Growth will be driven by Americans’ enduring love for the product, and the continued promotion of cheese as fundamentally nutritious and good tasting, despite its high fat content. Consumers are being educated to the fact that cheese is a good source of calcium, protein, and other nutrients--information to which they are very receptive, given their love of cheese. Moreover, with snacks representing 50% of all eating occasions, natural cheese is perfectly positioned to grab more share of this market. Consumers not only perceive natural cheese as healthier than processed versions, they also view it as a much better snacking option than cookies or chips, particularly with carbs and added sugars at the top of many consumer's ingredients-to-avoid-list. Producers are also addressing consumer health and diet concerns with better tasting reduced salt and fat cheeses, and cheeses made from milk considered by consumers to have a healthier edge. Cheese made from organic milk, milk from grass-fed cows, and milk free of artificial growth hormones have grown in popularity. Organic cheese has been a growth spot, with sales projected to increase by double digits to reach $750 million in 2018.

Given that the fat content makes cheese an indulgent experience, consumers increasing demand that the experience be high-quality, full-flavored, and rooted in authentic cheesemaking standards and traditions. The broadening of the American palette beyond the traditional favorites, Cheddar and Mozzarella, is driving growth of specialty and international or regional cheeses. Aged and artisanal products continue to flourish with robust flavor profiles and textures. Even mass brands are meeting consumer desire for bolder flavors with smoky, peppery, and gourmet varieties with savory spice, nut, and dried fruit inclusions.

The lion's share of natural and specialty cheese sales come from mass retail outlets including supermarkets, natural grocery chains, mass merchandisers/supercenters, and warehouse club stores. The most successful retailers in this group have upscale cheese departments or have upgraded their departments to feature more specialty cheeses and higher levels of service and complementary products. The store brand natural and specialty cheese business is significant, accounting for over 40% of total sales in 2013. The marketer landscape is quite fragmented in the U.S. with only a couple of very large, several mid-size and numerous small manufacturers competing. Kraft is the leader by far yet garners a relatively modest 18% share of total sales.

Many of the product trends found in the retail market start in foodservice, especially in restaurants. Cheese is used liberally in many menu items, and one of the biggest opportunities for cheese is in the growing breakfast sandwich segment. Globally, the greatest growth potential for cheese is in emerging markets where millions if not billions of newly middle class consumers are adopting “Westernized” diets that include dairy products. Emerging market growth represents a significant opportunity for export, since these countries don’t produce enough milk to satisfy domestic demand for dairy and cheese products.

Scope of Report

The report presents a detailed analysis of the U.S. consumer market for natural and specialty cheese sold directly to consumers through retail outlets, including “bricks and mortar” stores as well as catalogues, Internet sites and others. It outlines key issues and trends affecting the overall market and analyzes all product categories and segments of natural and specialty cheeses. Cheese: Natural and Specialty Cheese in the U.S. and Global Markets, 5th Edition also discusses major players and brands and analyzes their key activities and performance. Market size data are provided for 2009–2013 and projections for 2013–2018. Retail channels that sell consumer natural and specialty cheese are covered and considered in arriving at market size and trends, and competitive analysis. Information and insight is provided for processed cheese, and non-dairy cheese products, as well as the foodservice and global cheese markets, to add context and perspective. Data from these markets is not included for market sizing/projections, marketer/brand and retail channel shares of the core U.S. consumer natural and specialty cheese market.

Methodology

The information in this report was obtained from both primary and secondary research. Primary research included consultation with industry sources and on-site examinations of the retail sector. Secondary research entailed gathering data from relevant trade, business and government sources, as well as company promotional literature and annual reports. Our estimates of market size and company performance are based on various sources including reported revenues of product manufacturers and retailers; IRI, which tracks data in mass retail outlets; publications and other market research sources. Our analysis of consumer trends relies on data from several sources including government reports, a national online consumer usage survey conducted in January/February 2014 by Packaged Facts, and Simmons National Consumer Surveys for Spring 2004 through Summer 2013, from Experian Marketing Services. On an ongoing basis, Experian Marketing Services conducts booklet-based surveys of a large and random sample of consumers (approximately 25,000 for each 12-month survey compilation) who in aggregate represent a statistically accurate cross-section of the U.S. population.

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