Say Cheese! Growing Trends and Innovation of the Cheese Industry

Danielle Ohl

Cheese-variety.jpgIf you could peek into the grocery baskets of consumers across the country, you would find one interesting item that almost every person is purchasing: cheese products. In the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's (IDDBA) annual trend report, they discovered that 98% of households consider cheese their mainstay product to bring home from the store, with 77% of consumers considering it part of a healthy diet in 2016.

Consumer Trends Opening a World of Cheese Innovations

It's not only the nutritional value of cheese that is appealing to consumers. The millennial generation especially is looking for a wide range of other aspects that include more specialty cheeses, cheese snacks that are easily transportable to fit into their on-the-go lifestyles, and transparency in processing and packaging of cheeses in local markets, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Consumers are willing to open their pockets and pay more for cheese products that satisfy their palates and bring nutritional benefits to their lifestyles. The cheese industry is stepping up to the challenge to meet this growing demand. New artisan cheeses, such as Portuguese and Spanish styles, are being introduced to American markets at events such as the 2016 International Cheese Technology Expo in the hopes of appealing to consumers who are interested in bolder, more unique flavors.

shutterstock_124781137.jpgInnovative new technology is also being introduced into the cheese industry to address sanitation and packaging concerns for consumers who are looking for more transparency in the products they purchase. From tackling moisture control to addressing the concerns of wastewater processing and discharge, cheese makers and packaging companies are working together to roll out machinery that can handle every challenge, including clean label opportunities, whey co-product utilization, and consistent cheese quality.

Yet technology isn't being restricted to the processing and packaging floor. With consumers adopting mobile technology, more software applications are also being introduced to help people make better shopping choices when selecting their desired cheeses. Now people can use an app to access open knowledge databases filled with data on the varieties of cheese that are available. Consumers can also pull up an app to figure out which cheese would pair well with a favorite type of wine or meal.

Growing Cheese Market Moving Ahead at Full Speed

Cheese consumption has steadily grown for the past 25 years. It has fit into the market niche of being a flavorful, high protein and calcium-rich food product that should always be included on the grocery list. Satisfying the needs of people from all lifestyles, from chefs cooking elaborate dishes to kids looking for a snack after school, the cheese industry has been able to push the boundaries and seek out the most cost-effective and innovative solutions in the production, processing, and packaging of cheese products.