Changing tastes of cheese – but Cheddar still makes the cut

Cheddar remains the ‘big cheese’ with UK consumers – but continental varieties are taking a large slice of the market as popularity for the exotic continues to grow.

With over a third of consumers viewing soft continental cheeses, such as Brie or Camembert, as good for special occasions, sales rose by 6.4 per cent in the first half of last year.

But cheese-lovers don’t have to look too far from home to satisfy their taste-buds with the UK now producing over 700 different varieties of cheese – more than France and Switzerland combined.

This hunger for more exotic flavours could provide further opportunities for the dairy industry, according to a new report from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

It reveals that Cheddar continues to be the nation’s most popular cheese, accounting for around half of UK cheese sales – with 86 per cent of households purchasing it in the three months to October 2018, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

However, sales of this great British favourite has failed to keep pace with the overall market over the past year.

AHDB’s Analyst Amey Brassington said: “In contrast, continental cheeses enjoyed volume and value growth, with sales volumes of hard continental cheeses up by 6 per cent and soft continental cheese up by 6.4 per cent in the year to July 2018.

“Whatever your preference, what’s clear is that despite calls by a minority to reduce dairy intake, cheese is considered a staple food in the UK. According to Mintel, nearly 90 per cent of consumers eat cheese every month and two-thirds eat cheese at least twice a week.”

According to Kantar Worldpanel, almost 99 per cent of the population bought cheese at least once in the 52 weeks to July 2018, with value sales up 3.7 per cent during this period, making it a strong year for cheese.

Amey added: “Great Britain is well-known for its Cheddar production, but as the Great British cheese board has evolved to a more continental scene, so too has UK cheese production. 

“While our own beloved British Cheddar looks set to stay, the hunger for more exotic flavours could provide further opportunities for the production of more continental-style cheeses, and a boost for the territorials.”

Get Our E-Newsletter - breaking news to your in-box twice a week
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.