KANSAS CITY - Snacking, convenience and new options for homebound Americans during the pandemic are among the cheese trends retailers and suppliers are keeping a close eye on.

Green Bay, Wis.-based BelGioioso Cheese is seeing the flavored cheese category growing faster than the overall specialty cheese category, said Sean Moran, the company’s vice president of sales.

 Snacking continues to be a traffic driver as well, he added. With over 95% of people snacking twice a day, snacking cheese sales are now over 10% of specialty cheese sales. Other strong performers in the specialty category for BelGioioso include Italian style cheeses and larger sizes.

BelGioioso recently introduced its Artigiano Gourmet Snacks and Crumbles in Balsamic & Cipolline and Vino Rosso flavors.  The company also has new 10-ounce Shredded, Grated, and Shaved Parmesan cups to offer a larger size and better value for consumers looking to purchase more per trip.

Also trending up for BelGioioso: burrata.

“Burrata is so fresh, delicious, and versatile that it continues to intrigue both consumers and chefs,” Moran said. “We see this cheese continuing to trend positively into 2021 and beyond.”

One of the bright spots in the pandemic (if you can find one), Moran said, is that more consumers are preparing meals at home and learning new cooking skills. 

“This is good for our premium quality cheeses which are excellent for cooking in a variety of applications,” he said. “In addition, we’re optimistic that the foodservice sector will begin to recover as we progress through 2021.  A strong foodservice sector really contributes to a healthy economy.”

Meeting the needs of homebound cooks

Amersfoort, Netherlands-based FrieslandCampina also has a variety of cheeses perfect for today’s pandemic-bound home cooks, said Debbie Seife, marketing director of FrieslandCampina Consumer Dairy. 

“In particular, our Parrano cheeses, A Dutch Masterpiece and our Gayo Azul Red Wax Gouda are perfect entertaining cheeses,” Seife said. “People are also cooking more at home. Gayo Azul Queso Blanco and Gayo Azul Gouda slices offer a perfect options for recipes and sandwiches.”

Consumer trends that will continue over the next year will include smaller gatherings, cooking at home for family and friends as well as the need for diversity and international flavors, she added. FrieslandCampina is well situated to meet demand for all of them.

Heading into the New Year, the company is excited about a number of developments, including all-new packaging for the A Dutch Masterpiece line, Seife said.

“The award-winning cheese that is a work of art,” as FrieslandCampina bills A Dutch Masterpiece, also is being supported by a revamped website.

The redesigned packaging features famous Dutch painters and their easily recognizable work while providing informative tasting notes of the product to better educate people about the cheese line and its delicious taste and texture, Seife said.

“The new packaging for both the wheel and wedge, provides a more powerful image of the current product, which is designed to stand out in the cheese case,” she said. “A Dutch Masterpiece offers the art of cheese entertaining.”

The line features four premium mature cheeses, which have won excellence awards around the world thanks to the exclusive recipes and commitment to the art of traditional Dutch cheesemaking. Offerings include the slightly rich flavor of Vincent, the full-bodied flavor of Frans Hals, the delicate fruity flavor or Vermeer and the sharp taste and delicious texture of Rembrandt.

All of them, Seife said, are perfect for a cheese board with people spending more time with family and close friends at home.

"Our cheeses are as much a work of art as the innovative and prolific golden age painters for which they are named,” she said. “Distinctive in flavor like their artists, our new brand identity and package design frames the distinctive features of each painter, their formative work, and the unique age and tasting notes of each of the awarding winning cheeses in our masterpiece collection.”

Cheeseboards made easy

Fitchburg, Wis.-based Emmi Roth has made cheeseboard building easier with its latest product.

Roth’s Easy Entertaining Cheeseboard gives cheese lovers everything they need to make an Instagram-worthy cheeseboard at home – a bamboo cheese board, cheese markers, pairing ideas, and a trio of Roth’s most popular varieties of cheese: Grand Cru® ReserveJalapeño Havarti, and Gouda

“We know from consumer research that shopping for cheese and building a cheeseboard are both overwhelming,” said Heather Engwall, Roth’s vice president of marketing. “We developed this new cheeseboard kit to make it easy for anyone to enjoy specialty cheese and entertain with ease.”

Research by Roth found that consumers look to places like Instagram for cheeseboard inspiration throughout the year. Popular Instagram tags like #charcuterie has 1.3 million posts, #cheeseboards has 1 million posts, and #cheese has 24.5 million posts. Cheeseboards are some of Roth’s most engaging posts on Instagram with about a 6.2% engagement rate per post.

The Roth Easy Entertaining Cheeseboard retails for approximately $14.99 and can be found nationwide at various retailers, including Albertson’s Southwest, Safeway, HEB and Whole Foods Market.

North meets south

Amersfoort, Netherlands-based FrieslandCampina’s Gayo Azul has an updated Blue Rooster logo on all-new packaging and a bilingual website redesign.

Gayo Azul continues to grow both its fan base and distribution with the robust redesign of www.gayoazul.com, said Debbie Seife, marketing director of FrieslandCampina’s Consumer Dairy division. With kids and parents “back to school/at home” and working at home, the Gayo Azul website offers suggestions on delicious ideas from Gayo Azul for easy holiday breakfast entertaining.

Gayo Azul brand has a rich heritage and a strong Dutch influence that has been a traditional staple for Caribbean Hispanics for decades, Seife said. The brand offers a range of traditional Dutch cheeses as well as fresh white domestic cheeses.

The Gayo Azul assortment has something for every cheese lover, Seife said, with varieties including Gouda, Queso Blanco, Edam and Swiss that are offered in convenient sizes.

“The bold Blue Rooster Logo stands out from the rest and the amazing flavors of the cheese make Gayo Azul a must have,” Seife said.  “Since 1955, Gayo Azul has been a recognized Blue Rooster brand to many loyal consumers. With a new website and some social media we strive to add value to our loyal consumers.”

Some of the Gayo Azul varieties include:

  • Gayo Azul Dutch Gouda – this versatile mild and creamy cheese is excellent on a cheeseboard, in a casserole, as a topping or used in sauces and soups. Also available in slices it is delicious on cold sandwich or melts beautifully in a hot one.
  • Gayo Azul Queso Blanco – a fresh mild white cheese that holds its shape well, making it ideal for pan grilling. It also has a nice crumbly texture and is great for topping salads, soups and tacos.
  • Gayo Azul Dutch Edam – this cheese is a bit firmer than Gouda yet has a rich flavor and smooth creamy texture. Easy to cut on cheese boards, shred in baking dishes, and cube in salads and vegetable dishes.
  • Gayo Azul Sliced Swiss – a rindless, European swiss with perfect eyes and a sweet nutty taste that works on both cold and grilled sandwiches

This story was included in the January 2021 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. Read the rest of the magazine here.