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UK Cheese market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Cheese market, its consumers and the major players who make up that market.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

  • What are the key challenges facing the industry?
  • Who is the consumer and what do they want?
  • Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Market

Point of sale market data

In conjunction with IRi, extensive point of sale data shows you what consumers are spending their money on

Market Size

How big is the market today and what is our 5 year forecast? Includes both best & worst case scenarios

Market Segmentation

What are the different segments within the market and how are those individual segments performing?

Consumer

Consumer behaviors

What are consumers looking for, what drives their buying habits and what are their main purchase influencers?

Demographic breakdown

From iGen & Millennials to Baby Boomers & beyond. Who is spending money and what are they spending it on?

Representative sample

We gather our data from real-world consumers, selected to accurately reflect precise global demographics

Players

Company strategy

What are the key players doing, what has been successful for them and what was their marketing spend?

Product innovation

Using data from our Global New Product Database, what products were launched and how well were they perceived?

Opportunities

What happens next, which areas are likely to experience growth and what opportunities exist within the market?

Covered in this report

This report examines the UK retail market for cheese. For the purposes of this report, Mintel’s definition includes products sold through the grocery retail channel and direct to consumers, including:

  • Fresh cheese and cream cheese
  • Hard cheese and semi-hard cheese
  • Processed cheese
  • Soft cheese and semi-soft cheese

The market size includes sales of cottage cheese; however, this is excluded from all other parts of the report, as it falls under the curd and quark category. Sales via catering or foodservice establishments are excluded.

What you need to know

Estimated at £2.6 billion in 2018, sales of cheese grew by a decidedly modest 2.7% over 2013-18, while volumes experienced a marginal decline of 0.3%. Cheese is a household staple, with 92% of UK (United Kingdom) adults eating it, and 67% doing so at least twice in a typical week.

Cheddar continues to be the most popular type purchased, with older age groups being core users. Eating of all types of cheese drops among 16-24s; however, they show heightened interest in plant-based cheese alternatives.

The market’s return to growth in 2018 has been driven by the recipe and continental cheese segments, tapping into consumers’ interest in scratch cooking and ‘foodie-ism’, with these consumers looking for more adventurous flavours to try. The trend for consumers to cut back on their meat consumption should prove beneficial for the cheese market as cheese eaters show openness to replacing meat with cheese in cooked meals.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Alyson Parkes, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Strong interest in purchasing cheese from local producers in supermarkets creates scope for the grocers to tap into the allure of specialist cheese shops, while leveraging the overarching interest in buying British produce. Meanwhile, the trend towards reducing meat consumption presents an opportunity for the market to encourage more frequent usage by positioning cheese as a suitable alternative to meat in main meals.Alyson Parkes
Food & Drink Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Market maintains a second year of value growth
              • Figure 1: UK retail value sales of cheese, 2013-23
            • Value sales are forecast to keep growing
              • Cheddar sees marginal loss in share of value sales
                • Continental cheese gets a boost from the ‘foodie’ trend
                  • Meat reduction trend presents opportunities for the cheese market
                    • Retailers overhauling dairy aisles sees brands lose shelf-space
                      • Companies and brands
                        • Own-label gains value and volume share
                          • Cathedral City maintains lead but sees volume sales fall
                            • Figure 2: Leading brands’ value sales in the UK cheese market, 2016/17 and 2017/18
                          • Own-label continues to dominate launches
                            • Tesco has been the most active company so far in 2018
                              • Vegan claims are on the up
                                • Steep decline in advertising spend
                                  • Adspend on cheddar nose dives; continental and spreadable gain
                                    • The consumer
                                      • Cheese is a menu staple
                                        • Figure 3: Frequency of usage of cheese, July 2018
                                      • Cheddar retains position as the big cheese
                                        • Figure 4: Types of cheese bought in the last three months, July 2018
                                      • Supermarkets are the key channel for buying cheese
                                        • Figure 5: Where cheese is bought, July 2018
                                      • Sampling cheese is the key factor to encourage purchasing
                                        • Figure 6: Factors to encourage buying a new cheese, July 2018
                                      • Environmentally friendly packaging garners the most interest
                                        • Figure 7: Interest in innovation in cheese, July 2018
                                      • Strong support for local cheeses in supermarkets
                                        • Figure 8: Attitudes towards cheese, July 2018
                                      • Opportunity for cheese to be positioned as a meat substitute
                                        • Figure 9: Further attitudes towards cheese, July 2018
                                      • What we think
                                      • Issues and Insights

                                        • Supermarkets can give a boost to local cheese producers
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                              • The meat reduction trend could open up opportunities for cheese
                                                • The facts
                                                  • The implications
                                                    • Plant-based cheese alternatives can make inroads in the market
                                                      • The facts
                                                        • The implications
                                                        • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                          • Market maintains a second year of value growth
                                                            • Value sales are forecast to keep growing
                                                              • Cheddar sees marginal loss in share of value sales
                                                                • Continental cheese gets a boost from the ‘foodie’ trend
                                                                  • Meat reduction trend presents opportunities for the cheese market
                                                                    • Retailers overhauling dairy aisles sees brands lose shelf-space
                                                                    • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                      • Market maintains a second year of value growth
                                                                        • Figure 10: UK retail value and volume sales of cheese, 2013-23
                                                                      • Value sales are forecast to keep growing
                                                                        • Figure 11: UK retail value sales of cheese, 2013-23
                                                                      • Ageing population should support slow but steady volume growth
                                                                        • Figure 12: UK retail volume sales of cheese, 2013-23
                                                                      • Forecast methodology
                                                                      • Market Segmentation

                                                                        • Little change in shares of sales across the cheese market
                                                                          • Cheddar sees marginal loss in share of value sales
                                                                            • Recipe cheese is the fastest growing segment
                                                                              • Continental cheese gets a boost from the ‘foodie’ trend
                                                                                • Figure 13: UK retail sales of cheese, by type, 2016-18
                                                                              • Soft white cheese is the only cheese type to see value decline
                                                                              • Market Drivers

                                                                                • Low-carbohydrate trend continues to hold back the cheese market
                                                                                  • New study in the media touts health benefits of cheese
                                                                                    • Meat reduction trend presents opportunities and challenges for the cheese market
                                                                                      • The rising profile of plant-based food is a threat for mainstream players
                                                                                        • Retailers overhauling dairy aisles sees brands lose shelf-space
                                                                                          • Focus on plastic packaging waste is a challenge for the market
                                                                                            • Household spend is subdued but the pressure is set to ease
                                                                                              • Figure 14: Annual percentage change in CPI and AWE (regular pay), monthly basis, January 2012-May 2018
                                                                                            • Brexit could lead to price rises and less choice in dairy
                                                                                              • Figure 15: Average retail price for cheddar cheese, Q1 2017-Q2 2018
                                                                                            • Extreme weather pushes up dairy prices
                                                                                              • The ageing population should prop up the market
                                                                                                • Figure 16: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2013-18 and 2018-23
                                                                                            • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                              • Own-label gains value and volume share
                                                                                                • Cathedral City maintains lead but sees volume sales fall
                                                                                                  • Seriously is the star performer
                                                                                                    • Own-label continues to dominate launches
                                                                                                      • Tesco has been the most active company so far in 2018
                                                                                                        • Vegan claims are on the up
                                                                                                          • Steep decline in advertising spend
                                                                                                            • Adspend on cheddar nose dives; continental and spreadable gain
                                                                                                            • Market Share

                                                                                                              • Own-label gains value and volume share
                                                                                                                • Figure 17: Leading brands in the UK cheese market, by value and volume, 2016/17 and 2017/18
                                                                                                              • Cathedral City maintains lead but sees volume sales fall
                                                                                                                • Mixed performances from other cheddar brands
                                                                                                                  • Dairylea and Laughing Cow sales fall
                                                                                                                    • Manufacturers of kids’ snacking cheeses see the biggest sales falls
                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Leading companies in the UK cheese market, by value and volume, 2016/17 and 2017/18
                                                                                                                  • Startup Company Profiles

                                                                                                                    • Blackwood’s Cheese Company
                                                                                                                      • Company mission
                                                                                                                        • Product
                                                                                                                          • Social media information
                                                                                                                            • Mintel consumer trends
                                                                                                                              • Why it could fail
                                                                                                                                • Mintel’s verdict
                                                                                                                                  • New Roots
                                                                                                                                    • Company mission
                                                                                                                                      • Product
                                                                                                                                        • Social media information
                                                                                                                                          • Mintel consumer trends
                                                                                                                                            • Why it could fail
                                                                                                                                              • Mintel’s verdict
                                                                                                                                              • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                • Own-label continues to dominate launches
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 19: New product launches in the UK cheese market, by own-label and brands, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                • Tesco has been the most active company so far in 2018
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 20: New launches in the UK cheese market, by top 10 companies in 2017, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Example of Tesco’s tear and reseal cheese packaging, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                • Tesco brings back tertiary brand Creamfields
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Examples of cheese products under Tesco’s Creamfields brand, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                • Marks & Spencer focus on BBQ occasions and provenance
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 23: Examples of M&S launches highlighting provenance of ingredients, June 2018-August 2018
                                                                                                                                                • New Yorkshire Cheddar from Wensleydale Creamery
                                                                                                                                                  • Wensleydale Creamery unveils gin cheese
                                                                                                                                                    • Innovation continues in sliced cheese formats
                                                                                                                                                      • Cathedral City launches ‘The Big Slice’
                                                                                                                                                        • Retailers offer convenience for bagels and burgers
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Examples of sliced cheese formats, May-September 2018
                                                                                                                                                        • Seriously expands cheddar range with Melting Pots duo
                                                                                                                                                          • Dairylea adds a sweet and savoury snack combination to its line-up
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 25: Dairylea Snackers, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Mondelez reveals new packaging for Philadelphia brand
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 26: Examples from Philadelphia’s rebranded range of cream cheeses, 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Bel UK adds two new spreadable variants to Laughing Cow brand
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 27: The Laughing Cow spreadable cheese variants, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Boursin adds a Velvety cheese product to line-up
                                                                                                                                                            • Wyke Farms launches organic range of cheddar
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 28: Wyke Farms organic mature cheddar, September 2018
                                                                                                                                                            • Vegan claims are on the up
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 29: Share of new product launches in the UK cheese market carrying a vegan/no animal ingredient or a vegetarian claim, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 30: Examples of vegan cheese-style products, February 2018-June 2018
                                                                                                                                                          • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                                            • Steep decline in advertising spend
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 31: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on cheese, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                            • Adspend on cheddar nose dives; continental and spreadable gain
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 32: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on cheese, by product type, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                            • Cathedral City sponsors ITV quiz show Britain’s Brightest Family
                                                                                                                                                              • Mondelēz and Bel UK are the highest spending advertisers
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 33: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on cheese, by top 10 advertisers (sorted by 2017), 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                              • Philadelphia campaign encourages consumers to ‘savour the moment’
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 34: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on cheese, by top 10 brands (sorted by 2017), 2017-18
                                                                                                                                                              • Dairylea launches summer of promotions
                                                                                                                                                                • The Laughing Cow launches interactive café experience
                                                                                                                                                                  • Kerry Foods returns to TV screens
                                                                                                                                                                    • Pilgrim’s Choice launch surreal #CheeseDreams advert
                                                                                                                                                                      • President launches French-themed campaign
                                                                                                                                                                        • Dairy industry’s spoof campaign ‘Scrumptious’ returns for second year
                                                                                                                                                                          • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                                            • Cheese is a menu staple
                                                                                                                                                                              • Cheddar retains position as the big cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                • Supermarkets are the key channel for buying cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sampling cheese is the key factor to encourage purchasing
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Environmentally friendly packaging garners the most interest
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Strong support for local cheeses in supermarkets
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Opportunity for cheese to be positioned as a meat substitute
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Frequency of Eating Cheese

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Cheese is a menu staple
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 35: Usage of cheese, by age, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Four fifths of consumers eat cheese at least once a week
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 36: Frequency of eating/using cheese, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Types of Cheese Purchased

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Cheddar retains position as the big cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Types of cheese bought in the last three months, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Over-55s are core regional British cheeses buyers
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Continental cheeses are bought by the affluent
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Over-55s have bought the widest repertoire of cheeses
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Repertoire of types of cheese bought in the last three months, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Where Cheese Is Bought

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Supermarkets are the key channel for buying cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 39: Where cheese is bought, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Discounters and convenience stores are used most by 16-24s
                                                                                                                                                                                                • ‘Foodies’ buy cheese at specialist stores
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Two thirds of cheese buyers purchase from one channel
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 40: Repertoire of retailers cheese is bought from, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Factors to Encourage Buying a New Cheese

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Four fifths of consumers could be encouraged to buy a new cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Sampling cheese is the key factor to encourage purchasing
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 41: Factors to encourage buying a new cheese, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Recommendations play a powerful role
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Interest in Innovation in Cheese

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Environmentally friendly packaging garners the most interest
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 42: Example of environmentally friendly packaging, New Roots, June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 43: Interest in innovation in cheese, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Spices can add interest to the category
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 44: Examples of cheese with spices, February-May 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Seasonality can bring year-long variety to the cheese market
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Examples of seasonal cheeses, January 2017-June 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cheese made with plant-based ingredients can tap into vegan movement
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Unique, healthy, and environmentally friendly among plant-based cheese strengths
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 46: Perception map of attribute performance of plant-based cheeses in comparison to dairy cheese in the UK market, April 2018-September 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Attitudes towards Cheese

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Strong support for local cheeses in supermarkets
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Attitudes towards cheese, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Opportunity for cheese to be positioned as a meat substitute
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 48: Examples of cheese-based meal centres, May-August 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Incorporating cheese into vegetarian meat substitutes also holds appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Association with digestive health could give cheese a boost
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 49: Further attitudes towards cheese, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • A quarter would be interested in a cheese subscription service
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations, and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 50: Best- and worst-case forecast of total UK retail value sales of cheese, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 51: Best- and worst-case forecast of total UK retail volume sales of cheese, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 52: New product launches in the UK cheese market, by top 10 claims (sorted by 2017), 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 53: New launches in the UK cheese market, by launch type, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 54: Share of new product launches in the UK cheese market carrying an organic certification, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 55: Share of total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on cheese, by top 10 advertisers (sorted by 2017), 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 56: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on cheese, by media type, 2014-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 57: Where cheese is bought, by age, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 58: Attribute performance of plant-based cheeses in comparison to dairy cheese in the UK market, April 2017-September 2018