A report published by Allied Market Research in January showed that the feta market was worth $10.5 billion in 2019, and it’s expected to reach $15.8B by 2028.

There are many reasons for that strong growth, said Jenny Englert, marketing director for Saputo USA.

For starters, feta comes in a variety of flavors and has many uses.

Then there’s the health angle — feta is perfect, Englert said, for people who want the experience of a full-bodied cheese but without the heavy feeling they get after eating other cheeses.

Saputo’s Nikos Feta line offers many options with reduced fat or low cholesterol options.

Feta sales have increased 56%, or $161 million, over the past five years, according to data cited by Emmi Roth.

The main driver has been Emmi Roth’s Athenos feta brand, which has contributed $63 million of that growth, said Amie Wentz, the company’s director of brand management.

In many markets, she added, Athenos grew 57% faster than any other feta brand.

Klondike Cheese Co. is another feta industry leader that continues to see an increase in sales every year, said Teena Buholzer, the company’s marketing director.

“It is an exciting time for feta. We continue to expand our production of feta to keep up with the growing market.”


Home chefs crave new flavors

Feta has benefited from the changes in shopper behavior caused by Covid, Wentz said.

The pandemic caused millions of Americans to eat more meals at home, and that has remained the case, with more people still working from home.

“Consumers continue to look for different ways to flavor up their meals, and feta is an easy way to add flavor,” Wentz said.

In response to the recent spike in demand, Emmi Roth recently launched Athenos Whipped Feta Dip & Spread.

“We’re receiving very positive reviews from consumers through feedback on our social media channels, including requests for where to buy it and recipe sharing ideas,” Wentz said of the new product. “It saves consumers time and gives them a new way to put their favorite feta into more meal or snack occasions.”

Emmi Roth’s new headquarters and conversion facility in Stoughton, Wis., has increased the company’s ability to drive innovation and continue to provide more feta cheese options to meet the surging demand, Wentz said.

The Athenos brand features a wide variety of feta options beyond the new whipped product, Wentz said.

Crumbled Traditional Feta comes in 4-, 6-, 12- and 24-oz packs. A chunk version ships in 8- and 16-oz sizes.

For those who are looking for a little more flavor, Emmi Roth also makes Athenos Garlic & Herb, Athenos Tomato & Basil and Athenos Mediterranean Herb crumbled feta, all available in both 4- and 6-oz sizes.

Athenos also offers fat-free and reduced-fat feta options in crumbled 3.5 oz., 5 oz. and 12 oz. sizes.

The company’s best seller “by far,” Wentz said, is Athenos Crumbled Traditional Feta Cheese.

“Consumers are seeking convenience and versatility of crumbled feta for easy salad and meal toppers.”

American twist

Saputo’s Nikos Feta comes in both Traditional and Reduced Fat versions, both of which are available in crumble form.

Saputo’s award-winning American version of feta is made from cow milk and has a milder, less salty taste than its Greek cousin, Englert said.

“Its soft, crumbly texture and tangy taste make it the perfect addition to any dish in need of a little pizzazz. You can add it to salads, pizzas, dips, pasta and more.”

Also, the tangy flavor of Nikos, Englert said, brings a hint of acidity and lightness to a dish, while not overpowering the other flavors on the plate.


Keeping it fresh with brine

All of the Odyssey branded traditional and flavored feta products made by Klondike are sold nationwide and available in both crumbled and chunk products, Buholzer said.

Odyssey feta products range in size from 4 to 12 oz.

One thing that sets the brand apart, Buholzer said, is the fact that Odyssey offers its grocery customers the option of a feta product in brine.

“It’s the most authentic way feta is packaged. Keeping the cheese in the brine will allow it to stay fresher for a longer period of time.”

Klondike’s top seller is its Traditional Feta, both crumbled or chunked. It adds just enough tanginess to dishes and salads, Buholzer said, without overpowering other flavors.


Social surge

Consumer demand for feta has been driven by a number of factors, but one of the major ones in recent years has been social media-driven, Wentz said.

The big one was the Baked Feta Pasta trend on TikTok in 2021, which put feta on the map as a mainstream cheese, introducing about 1.4 million consumers into the feta category.

Englert also cited the enormous role #bakedfetapasta and other viral social media trends have played in feta’s surging popularity – #bakedfetapasta garnered 108 million views on TikTok, and in the weeks that followed, customers using Instacart ordered the recipe’s ingredients 4.6 times more than normal.

Even now, three years later, feta continues to see momentum across social channels due to its versatility in recipes, she added.