The average US consumer ate about 40.3 pounds of cheese in 2021, according to the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. And, over the past decade, US per capita consumption of cheese increased by more than five pounds.

Basic dairy department cheeses, such as American, cheddar and mozzarella, in shred, chunk and slice format, remain the leaders in this space, but it’s the specialty and snacking items that keep shoppers interested.

It is estimated that about one third of all cheese produced in the US is sold in its original form directly to consumers. Another third goes into foodservice, while the remaining third goes into food manufacturing. Think frozen pizza.

The cheese going direct to consumers continues to evolve with new flavors and formats. Norseland Inc., Darien, Conn., for example, has found much success with its Folios Cheese Wraps, a line of par-baked sheets of cheese that are free from carbohydrates and gluten. Sold refrigerated, the cheese wraps serve as a high-protein alternative to traditional flour-based tortillas and flatbreads. The original line debuted in 2016 in cheddar, Jarlsberg and parmesan varieties. This year Norseland added mozzarella to the lineup. The higher moisture content of mozzarella presented baking challenges that the company managed to overcome. The keto-certified wraps can be stuffed, rolled, folded, melted, crisped and baked.

The company also offers Lotito Presto Cacio e Pepe Pasta Starters. The refrigerated line comes in four varieties: Original, con Pomodori (with sundried tomatoes), con Erbe (with wild herbs) and con Picante (with Calabrian chilies). The dried blends have sheep’s milk pecorino Romano cheese as the number-one ingredient. Whole milk powder and whey powder are critical components of the sauce mix. To use the mix, the home cook prepares one pound of pasta. During draining, one cup of the hot water is saved and added to the sauce starter, then tossed with pasta. Two shelf-stable varieties — original and black truffle — will be entering the market soon.

Emmi Roth, Fitchburg, Wis., is currently marketing its Roth Dill Havarti and will soon be marketing its Roth Gouda line, which includes Hot Honey Gouda, Smoked Gouda, Spinach Artichoke Gouda and Buffalo Ranch Gouda.

When it comes to trends, smoked gouda has been and will continue to be the number one flavor of gouda, representing about 40% of the category, said Kaitie Hackett, category manager, Emmi Roth.

“In recent years, we’ve seen more unique flavors that are helping to generate excitement and drive growth for the category.”

In 2022, Emmi Roth saw more herb-forward flavors enter the category, including Roth Tomato Basil Havarti. Spicy flavors are also top-growing flavors in the cheese category. The company’s 3 Chili Pepper Gouda is a top seller.

Belle Chevre goat cheese spreadable dairy productsPhoto: Belle Chevre 

Goat cheese

Goat cheese, also known as chèvre, continues to see steady growth in the US. Much of this is attributed to the higher protein and lower cholesterol levels found in the products, as well as the fact that sensitive stomachs find it easier to digest.

The global goat cheese market was worth around $5.7 billion in 2022, according to Zion Market Research, San Francisco. It is predicted to grow to around $8.6 billion by 2030. In the US, that growth is coming from new flavors and convenient formats.

Saputo USA, Lincolnshire, Ill., rolled out Montchevre Duos, two-in-one flavor mashups that come in Sweet Hot Peppers + Garlic & Herbs, and Blueberry + Lemonade varieties. Additionally, Montchevre revealed a new flavor — Thai Sweet Chili — for its Topped Goat Cheese line.

“Goat cheese demand continues to rise, as does consumer demand for complementary and complex flavor combinations,” said Jenny Englert, marketing director. “With the Montchevre brand, we’re purposely mischievous in our innovations and always looking for those unique flavor profiles and product combinations that break the norm and help us stay ahead of trends and consumer demand.”

Belle Chevre, Elkmont, Ala., is repositioning its goat cheeses to be a “Log in a Cup.” For nearly 35 years, Belle Chevre has been handcrafting traditional chèvre logs. The new no-mess and no-waste cup is comparable in taste, texture and usage to the log.

Consumer research indicated that the growing number of goat cheese lovers have come to expect the spreadable yet somewhat crumbly texture of the ubiquitous goat cheese log, but are often frustrated by the plastic, vacuum-sealed film in which it’s enveloped. Oftentimes, the goat cheese falls apart when removed from the package or it remains lodged in the film. Further, the film is not resealable and therefore, if all the cheese is not consumed at once, a secondary container is required for storage. That’s now been taken care of with Belle Chevre’s Log in a Cup products, which are making their debut in fig, honey and original varieties.

Category innovations

Belgioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wis., is growing its newly acquired Polly-O cheese brand. The company is rolling out new cheese formats, including mozzarella logs and fresh shreds, with an updated, whimsical design including the brand’s infamous parrot.

In Good Hands Foods, Pomona, Calif., an incubator brand from California Dairies Inc., made its debut this winter with the rollout of Protein Puffs in nacho and white cheddar flavors. Made with Real California Milk, one serving delivers 12 grams of milk protein and only 1 gram of sugar.

Bel Brands USA, Chicago, added limited-edition Boursin Black Truffle & Sea Salt to its line of creamy, crumbly Gournay cheese. The brand likes to offer at least one limited-time offering every year that speaks to current trends.

Savencia Fromage & Dairy makes cheese the center of the plate with new Alouette Brie for Grilling. The 4.5-oz wheel of cheese is creamy and melty, yet strong enough to hold its shape when cooked at high heat on the grill.

Top national cheese brands US dairy Kraft Sargento TIllamook Crystal Farms Babybel Cabot BelGioioso

Source: Circana

|Graphic: Sosland Publishing Co. 

Top natural cheese brands Sargento Tillamook BelGioioso Cracker Barrel Frigo Kraft Galbani

Source: Circana

| Graphic: Sosland Publishing Co.