Did you eat more cheese in 2021 than 2020? Somebody did—American’s cheese consumption rose in 2021 by 3% and is on pace in 2022 for similar growth. Actually, at that pace, it was more than just somebody. It was probably most of us. And we’re not stopping.
Are you already thinking about your cheese consumption? What cheese you eat? How do you eat cheese? If you’re a restaurant owner/manager, how are your customers consuming cheese? Retailer, which cheese products are your customers buying most? Or are you just looking forward to what pairs with your prosciutto on your next charcuterie board?
Why the Cheese, Please?
There are a few reasons or causes for growth in cheese consumption, some thanks to the viral nature of social media. In 2021, cheese was declared the official love language, creating an extended love affair that has spilled over into 2022. Concurrently, #bakedfeta was the most searched term on Google. In fact, #fetapasta received more than 600 million views on TikTok (NY Times), causing some stores to run out of feta cheese (Charlotte Observer) and have to look for new or additional suppliers.
Cheese consumption has grown as a continued result of pandemic trends, such as increased cooking at home. The increase in cooking at home led to the parallel increase in cheese used for those meals, but it also brought forth more opportunities to try new meals and new uses for cheese.
As soon as the pandemic subsided, Americans’ increased appreciation of cheese extended into the on-the-go category. Whether cheese was packaged for single-serving consumption or as part of an on-the-go meal, consumers were asking for more of it. As Americans emerged from the pandemic often carrying perhaps a few more pounds than before pandemic, exact measurements rose in importance. Cheese packaging met the challenge, providing units that helped consumers incorporate cheese into their calorie counting.
Similarly, many brands added healthier components to their products. A Mintel report indicated that 55% of adults purchasing cheese snacks for their kids looked prioritized health (Dairyfoods.com). Some brands added vitamins and probiotics to their cheese snacks to make what has been healthy snacking even more beneficial.
Cheese consumption looks to continue its decades-long trend upward. Consumers keep seeking it, restaurants keep serving it, and stores keep selling it. All the more reason to say cheese!