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US 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.

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?

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

The cheese category is expected to continue on its course of slow, steady growth. Natural cheese continues to set the pace for the category, boosted by consumer interest in natural foods, increased snacking occasions, and the perception that natural cheese can be part of a healthy diet. For category competitors, there’s an opportunity to accelerate sales growth by giving cheese lovers more ways to love cheese by introducing them to new varieties and flavors and inspiring them with new recipes and ideas. John Owen
Senior Food & Drink Analyst

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

This report discusses the following key topics:

Definition

This Report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Cheese – US, October 2017, Cheese: Spotlight on Natural – US, November 2015 as well as Cheese – US, October 2014 and the October 2013, June 2012, October 2011, May 2010, May 2009, March 2007, April 2005, and February 2003 Reports of the same title.

This Report covers four main segments of cheese:

  • Natural cheese: includes all forms (slices, blocks, chunks, cubes, crumbles, shredded), string cheese, and ricotta cheese. Cheeses in this segment are produced directly from milk or whey that has been coagulated, heated, drained, and pressed. It can include the addition of salt and/or flavorings.
  • Processed cheese: includes cheese spreads in aerosol cans, squeezable tubes, cheese balls, cheese loafs and other forms, and imitation cheese. Cheeses in this segment are typically a blend of cheeses that have been mixed and cooked and include additional ingredients such as cream, milk, water, or cheese whey.
  • Cream cheese/cream cheese spreads: includes brick, soft, whipped, balls, and other forms; may be plain or flavored.
  • Cottage cheese

While most cheese is made from cow’s milk, cheeses made from goat’s milk and other dairy products, as well as non-dairy sources, such as soy milk, also are included.

Excluded from this Report are:

Yogurt cheese, cheese sauces, and cheese dips. The market size includes prepackaged UPC (Universal Product Code), PLU (price look up), and retailer-coded cheese. It includes sales through retail venues but excludes sales through restaurants and other foodservice venues and dairies/wholesalers.

Value figures throughout this Report are at rsp (retail selling prices), excluding sales tax, unless otherwise stated.

Note: Natural cheese is the focus of the consumer sections of this Report; however, sales of processed cheese, cream cheese/cream cheese spreads, and cottage cheese are included within the Market and Key Players sections.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Slow, steady growth expected to continue
            • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2012-22
          • Natural cheese outstrips other types in consumption rates and frequency
            • Figure 2: Cheese consumption frequency, July 2017
          • Taste drives consumption, other factors important but secondary
            • Figure 3: Reasons for purchasing cheese, July 2017
          • The opportunities
            • Versatility and health messages could help increase use frequency
              • Figure 4: Reasons for purchasing cheese, by natural cheese consumption frequency, July 2017
            • Promoting snacking, other uses could spur growth among young adults
              • Figure 5: Cheese use occasions, by age, July 2017
            • Give cheese lovers more ways to love cheese
              • Figure 6: Attitudes toward cheese, by natural cheese consumption frequency, July 2017
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Slow, steady growth expected to continue
                • Natural cheese increasingly dominant
                  • Continued dollar sales gains for cream cheese
                  • Market Size and Forecast

                    • Slow, steady growth expected to continue
                      • Figure 7: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2012-22
                      • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2012-22
                  • Market Breakdown

                    • Natural cheese increasingly dominant
                      • Continued dollar sales gains for cream cheese
                        • Cottage cheese sales trend down
                          • Figure 9: Total US share of cheese, by segment, at current prices, 2017
                          • Figure 10: Total US sales of cheese, by segment, at current prices, 2012-22
                      • Market Factors

                        • Growing prevalence of snacking an opportunity for cheese
                          • Figure 11: Snacking frequency, March 2017
                        • Cheese protein content in line with healthy snacking
                          • Figure 12: Seeking in better-for-you foods, June 2016
                        • Fluctuation in dairy commodity prices impacts retail market
                          • Figure 13: Natural cheese MULO sales growth rate, dollars vs volume, 2012-17*
                      • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                        • Store brands and Kraft continue to dominate category
                          • Reflecting the market, product launches skew more heavily to natural
                            • Free-from claims common on cheese packaging
                            • Company Sales of Cheese

                              • Store brands and Kraft lead category
                                • Market share holds steady across the category
                                  • Sales of cheese by company
                                    • Figure 14: MULO sales of cheese, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2016 and 2017
                                • What’s Working?

                                  • Reflecting market, product launches skew more heavily to natural
                                    • Figure 15: Cheese launches by type, 2011-17*
                                  • Free-from claims common on cheese packaging
                                    • Figure 16: Top cheese on-package claims, 2011-17*
                                  • Velveeta runs counter to trend away from processed cheese
                                  • What’s Struggling?

                                    • Cottage cheese struggles to regain momentum
                                    • What’s Next?

                                      • Cheese expertise at retail
                                        • The mainstreaming of premium cheese
                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                          • Natural cheese outstrips other types in consumption rates and frequency
                                            • Taste drives consumption, other factors important but secondary
                                              • Sandwiches top a long use-occasion list
                                                • Taste the most influential selection factor
                                                  • A greater variety purchased may help drive consumption and sales
                                                    • Give cheese lovers more ways to love cheese
                                                    • Cheese Consumption

                                                      • Natural cheese outstrips other types in consumption rates and frequency
                                                        • Figure 17: Cheese consumption frequency, July 2017
                                                      • Consumption frequency drops with age for all but natural cheese
                                                        • Figure 18: Cheese consumption frequency – 2 to 3 times a week or more, by age, July 2017
                                                      • Hispanics more frequent consumers of cheese types other than natural
                                                        • Figure 19: Cheese consumption frequency – 2 to 3 times a week or more, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2017
                                                    • Reasons for Purchasing Cheese

                                                      • Taste drives consumption, other factors important but secondary
                                                        • Figure 20: Reasons for purchasing cheese, July 2017
                                                      • Versatility and health messages could help to increase use frequency
                                                        • Figure 21: Reasons for purchasing cheese, by natural cheese consumption frequency, July 2017
                                                    • Cheese Use Occasions

                                                      • Sandwiches top a long use-occasion list
                                                        • Figure 22: Cheese use occasions, July 2017
                                                      • Promoting snacking, other uses could spur growth among young adults
                                                        • Figure 23: Cheese use occasions, by age, July 2017
                                                    • Purchase Considerations

                                                      • Taste the most influential selection factor
                                                        • Figure 24: Cheese purchase considerations, July 2017
                                                    • Purchase Behaviors

                                                      • Consumers report increasing natural cheese purchases
                                                        • Figure 25: Cheese purchase behaviors, July 2017
                                                      • A greater variety purchased may help to drive consumption and sales
                                                        • Figure 26: Cheese purchase behaviors (purchase different types of natural cheese), by natural cheese consumption frequency and increasing/decreasing purchase of natural cheese, July 2017
                                                    • Attitudes

                                                      • A generally healthy image that could be leveraged even further
                                                        • Figure 27: Attitudes toward cheese, July 2017
                                                      • Snacking and information key to reaching younger cheese eaters
                                                        • Figure 28: Attitudes toward cheese, by age, July 2017
                                                      • Give cheese lovers more ways to love cheese
                                                        • Figure 29: Attitudes toward cheese, by natural cheese consumption frequency, July 2017
                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                      • Data sources
                                                        • Sales data
                                                          • Fan chart forecast
                                                            • Consumer survey data
                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                  • Terms
                                                                  • Appendix – The Market

                                                                      • Figure 30: Total US sales and forecast of cheese, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2012-22
                                                                      • Figure 31: Total US retail sales and forecast of natural cheese, at current prices, 2012-22
                                                                      • Figure 32: Total US retail sales and forecast of processed cheese, at current prices, 2012-22
                                                                      • Figure 33: Total US retail sales and forecast of cream cheese, at current prices, 2012-22
                                                                      • Figure 34: Total US retail sales and forecast of cottage cheese, at current prices, 2012-22
                                                                      • Figure 35: Total US retail sales of cheese, by channel, at current prices, 2012-17
                                                                  • Appendix – Key Players

                                                                      • Figure 36: MULO sales of natural cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2016 and 2017
                                                                      • Figure 37: MULO sales of cottage cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2016 and 2017
                                                                      • Figure 38: MULO sales of processed cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2016 and 2017
                                                                      • Figure 39: MULO sales of cream cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2016 and 2017