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A Look into the Cheese Market for 2016

A Look into the Cheese Market for 2016

Chris LaJoie | Analyst, Consumer Insights | Schreiber Foods

We had a chance to catch up with Chris LaJoie, Consumer Insights Analyst, for Schreiber Foods and he gave us a quick glimpse into what we he sees ahead for the cheese market. Specifically, Chris tackled the topics of innovations and trends.


Specific to cheese, a lot of work is being done on flavors, and identifying the flavor profiles that are going to outlast any fad-like limitations and have an impact on the industry for many years to come.

A bigger focus within innovation however is application of the products. According to Datassential’s MenuTrends database in 2015, cheese is the most common ingredient on menu items – it’s ubiquitous! Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fantastic position to be in, but it also brings a number of challenges. One of which is the continuous education of both operators and consumers on the crave-able and satiating elements of cheese.

Applying the appropriate cheese type on a dish oftentimes leads to higher satisfaction levels among consumers. Additionally, many of the trending, up-and-coming ethnic cuisines in America find traditional cheese applications as an afterthought. As these cuisine-types become more mainstream, it’ll be important for us to find acceptable “mash-ups” of multiple cuisines that include cheese.


One of the most prevalent movements throughout the consumer goods industry is the notion of a “story.” Where the products consumers are buying are from, how they are made, who is making them, etc. This is no different for the cheese industry. Cheese descriptors continue to growth in length, with historical descriptors such as “aged” for example, now becoming “5-year, cave-aged.” The story at foodservice is more dependent on the adjacent components of a menu item; however, when composed in harmony, with a message consumers relate to, success can be rife.

Also, the consumer definition of protein is evolving and we’re seeing a sharp uptick in new products with protein callouts on pack at retail – the Greek yogurt effect. Additionally, among restaurant goers, protein is now the most sought after nutrition, health and wellness attribute. Yet, we are still waiting to see a huge increase in the word protein on menus or in a context used to sell a menu item. This appears to be a large opportunity for the foodservice community, leveraging multiple high-protein items, cheese included, in one build.

Finally, we have also completed quite a bit of research to understand what drives consumers decisions at foodservice. Is convenience the biggest driver of where consumers go to eat? What we found was that consumers routinely will go out of their way to patronize a restaurant that has food they “crave.” This led us down a path to better understand what foods consumers often crave away-from-home. To no surprise, many of the classic comfort foods topped the list, including: pizza, burgers, Italian foods. It is not a coincidence that each of these foods are frequently cheese-centric and our research shows that typically, the more cheese the better on many menu items.

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