Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Cheese Consumer market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

Current Market Landscape

Cheese consumption was already nearly universal even prior to the pandemic, but the past year has seen consumers’ frequency of consumption actually increase from a year ago (during the height of the pandemic’s restrictions). This suggests that many of the cheese consumption behaviors picked up during the height of the pandemic have staying power, even as consumers adjust to changing work situations, increased snacking, and a return to commutes.

The pandemic led to double-digit sales growth in 2020, and while sales growth has slowed somewhat in 2021, sales should still outperform 2020’s total. Certain segments are showing clear weakness, with sales of cottage cheese falling nearly 3% in 2021. However, as a whole, cheese consumption is tracking consistent with the height of the pandemic’s restrictions, and the category could continue to resonate with consumers through a focus on healthy attributes and overall wellness that will be key to consumers coming out of the pandemic.

Future Market Trends in the US Cheese Market

The biggest challenge to the cheese category may be one of its biggest strengths, namely that only 5% of consumers are unengaged with the category. This leaves cheese brands with little choice but to increase frequency or usage occasions. Fortunately for brands and the category, snacking occasions remain a relatively untapped market for cheese and an area where healthy options will appeal to consumers, particularly parents, particularly as they return to commuting and busier lifestyles.

Cheeses are already perceived as generally healthy and indulgent, but there remains room for brands to innovate in both areas. More functional cheeses can target gut health, incorporate vitamins and minerals, improve mood, and boost energy levels. Meanwhile, indulgent cheeses have yet to make significant headway into dessert occasions, and there remain opportunities for brands to innovate in terms of flavors to appeal to consumer interest in more international cuisines.

Read on to discover more about the US Cheese consumer market, read our US Trending Flavors and Ingredients in Dairy Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Food and Foodservice Market research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the cheese category.
  • Cheese attributes by type of cheese.
  • Cheese-related behavior.
  • Attitudes toward cheese.
  • US Cheese market segment and US cheese market size.

Covered in this report

Cheese brands include: Athenos, Kraft Heinz, Sargento, BelGioioso, Tillamook County, Saputo Cheese, Bel Brands, Groupe Lactalis, Polly-O, Emmi Roth USA, Kraft Breakstone, Knudsen, Cracker Barrel, Philadephia, Velveeta, Frigo, Galbani, Deans Foods, Kemps, Daisy, Prairie Farms, Hiland, Meadow Gold, Hood, Hood Lactaid, Laughing Cow, Boursin, Daiya, Kaukauna, Price’s, Borden, Vevan Foods, Raw Farm.

Cheese types include: Feta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella, processed dairy-based cheese, goat cheese, dairy-alternative (plant) cheese, sheep’s cheese, swiss, pepper cheese.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Billy Roberts, a leading analyst in the Food and Drink sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Following 2020’s accelerated category growth brought on by pandemic circumstances, 2021 category sales were tempered yet still positive, reflecting both the lingering nature of the pandemic’s impact balanced with, for many, a return to some old routines, including increased out-of-home activities. Yet, segment performance is disproportionate, with the natural and cream cheese segments continuing growth, while processed and cottage cheese have dipped back into negative territory. Volatility in the supply chain and rising food prices make this an important time for cheese brands to connect with consumers. Frequent accompaniments for cheeses, meats and poultry costs are rising, yet thus far, dairy prices remain stable in comparison, making cheese an attractive and accessible protein alternative.

William Roberts, Jr -- Senior Food & Drink Analyst
Billy Roberts
Senior Analyst, Food and Drink

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Post-pandemic sales to slow considerably
      • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 2: Total US sales and forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
    • Impact of COVID-19 on cheese
      • Figure 3: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on cheese, November 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Increased consumption patterns show signs of sticking
      • Figure 4: Cheese consumption compared to one year ago, 2020* vs 2021
    • Growing flexitarian lifestyles point to coming shifts for cheese brands
      • Figure 5: Dairy or dairy alternative consumption in the past 3 months, by age, 2021
    • Brand is up for grabs with more than half
      • Figure 6: Cheese-related behavior, 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Steady growth turbocharged during the pandemic
    • Post-pandemic declines to span segments
    • Inflationary factors deflate consumer sentiment
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Elevated sales in 2021 point to longer term gains, opportunities
      • Figure 7: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
  5. Segment Performance

    • 2021 finds a disproportionate return to pre-pandemic patterns
      • Figure 9: Sales of cheese, by segment, 2016-26
      • Figure 10: Sales of cheese, by segment, 2016-26
    • Cheese sales boom across channels
      • Figure 11: Total US retail sales of cheese, by channel, at current prices, 2016-21
  6. Market Factors

    • Volatile food prices look to extend at-home food spend
      • Figure 12: Changes in Consumer Price Indexes for food, 2021-22
      • Figure 13: Sales of food at home and away from home, 2012-21
    • Growing flexitarian lifestyles point to coming shifts for cheese brands
      • Figure 14: Plant-based protein consumption, by dietary preferences, 2021
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Private label continues to dominate the market
    • Go beyond “real” with origin details
    • Update brand connections to health
  8. Market Share

    • Leader Kraft Heinz loses ground
    • Sales of cheese, by company
      • Figure 15: Multi-outlet sales of cheese, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
      • Figure 16: US launches of cheeses, by private label, 2016-21
    • Break up of Kraft Heinz points to changing dynamics in leading cheese brands
      • Figure 17: Multi-outlet sales of natural cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
    • Daisy sets the pace for cottage cheese
      • Figure 18: Multi-outlet sales of cottage cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
    • Bel Brands makes gains on Kraft Heinz
      • Figure 19: Multi-outlet sales of processed cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
    • Philadelphia dominates cream cheese segment
      • Figure 20: Multi-outlet sales of cream cheese/cream cheese spreads, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
  9. Competitive Strategies

    • Brands double down on versatility
      • Figure 21: Social media strategies, 2021
    • Bigger brands go plant-based
      • Figure 22: attitudes toward dairy-free cheese, by age and parental status, 2021
    • Cheese flavors bring the heat
      • Figure 23: US cheese introductions, with spicy flavor profiles, by date published, 2018-20
      • Figure 24: New cheese product launches in the US, 2021
  10. Market Opportunities

    • Still room to grow dairy-free
      • Figure 25: attitudes toward dairy-free cheese, by age and parental status, 2021
      • Figure 26: Plant-based cheese launches in the US, 2016-21
    • Focus on the BFY of cheese, whether dairy or plant-based
      • Figure 27: Consumers eating cheese as a healthy snack, 2021
      • Figure 28: Cheese launches in the US with a vitamin-fortified or probiotic claim, 2016-21
      • Figure 29: New cheese product launches in the US with a vitamin-fortified or probiotic claim, 2021
    • Room for cheeses on the go
      • Figure 30: Attitudes toward ease and convenience of cheese, by parental status and age of children in household, 2021
      • Figure 31: US launches of cheeses positioned as “on-the-go”, 2016-21
    • Take “real” to the next step with origin information
  11. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Consumption remains nearly universal
    • Consumption improves from pandemic’s height
    • Still room to snack
    • Less than a third choose cheese by brand
    • Cheese habits are up for grabs
    • Parents, young consumers more likely to see non-dairy cheese as healthier
  12. Cheese Consumption

    • Small consumption shifts point to longer-term needs for versatility and flexibility
      • Figure 32: Cheese consumption, 2021
    • Consumers turn to both dairy and dairy-free products
      • Figure 33: Dairy or dairy alternative consumption in the past three months, by age, 2021
    • Budding dairy-alternative trend powered by younger adults
      • Figure 34: Cheese consumption, by age, 2021
    • Space for both dairy and non-dairy cheeses to the biggest users
      • Figure 35: Repertoire of cheese consumption by format, by cheese format, 2021
  13. Cheese Consumption Frequency

    • Further cheese’s role, including into more snacking occasions
      • Figure 36: Cheese consumption frequency, 2021
    • Consumption consistent from pandemic’s height
      • Figure 37: Cheese consumption compared to one year ago, 2020* vs 2021
  14. Cheese Consumption by Format

    • Still room for more snackable occasions
      • Figure 38: Cheese consumption by format, 2021
    • More than four in 10 parents use 5+ cheese formats
      • Figure 39: Repertoire of cheese consumption by format, by parental status, 2021
  15. Cheese Attributes by Type of Cheese

    • Flavor, affordability factor strongly in consumer choice
      • Figure 40: Cheese attributes by type of cheese, 2021
    • Parents want balance of health and taste from dairy alternatives
      • Figure 41: Dairy-free cheese attributes, by parental status, 2021
    • 18-34s can be drawn with bold, hot formulations
      • Figure 42: Cheese attributes – New flavors/blends, by type of dairy-based cheese, 2021
  16. Cheese-related Behavior

    • Brand is up for grabs with more than half
      • Figure 43: Cheese-related behavior, 2021
    • Young habits are ripe for shake-ups, not breakups
      • Figure 44: Cheese purchase behavior, by age, 2021
    • Message around health to increase category engagement
      • Figure 45: Cheese-related behavior, by repertoire of cheese consumption by format, 2021
  17. Attitudes toward Cheese

    • Transparency will go a long way with parents
      • Figure 46: Local/ethical attitudes related to cheese, any agree, by parental status, 2021
    • Parents, young people seek better dairy-alternative cheeses
      • Figure 47: attitudes toward dairy-free cheese, any agree, by age and parental status, 2021
    • Take convenience to another, healthier level
      • Figure 48: Attitudes toward elevating convenience of cheese, any agree, by parental status and age of children in household, 2021
    • Younger adults open to DTC cheese
      • Figure 49: Brand and purchase of cheese, any agree, by age, 2021
  18. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  19. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 50: Total US retail sales and forecast of cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 51: Total US retail sales and forecast of cheese, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 52: Total US retail sales and forecast of cheese, by segment, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 53: Total US retail sales of cheese, by segment, at current prices, 2019 and 2021
      • Figure 54: Total US retail sales and forecast of natural cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 55: Total US retail sales and forecast of natural cheese, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 56: Total US retail sales and forecast of processed cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 57: Total US retail sales and forecast of processed cheese, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 58: Total US retail sales and forecast of cream cheese/cream cheese spreads, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 59: Total US retail sales and forecast of cream cheese/cream cheese spreads, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 60: Total US retail sales and forecast of cottage cheese, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 61: Total US retail sales and forecast of cottage cheese, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26
  20. Appendix – Companies and Brands

      • Figure 62: Multi-outlet sales of cheese, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
      • Figure 63: Multi-outlet sales of natural cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
      • Figure 64: Multi-outlet sales of cottage cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
      • Figure 65: Multi-outlet sales of processed cheese, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
      • Figure 66: Multi-outlet sales of cream cheese/cream cheese spreads, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
  21. Appendix – Consumer

      • Figure 67: Average household spending on cheese, 2016-21
  22. Appendix – Retailers

      • Figure 68: Total US retail sales of cheese, by channel, at current prices, 2016-21
      • Figure 69: Total US retail sales of cheese, by channel, at current prices, 2019 and 2021
      • Figure 70: US supermarket sales of cheese, at current prices, 2016-21
      • Figure 71: US sales of cheese through other retail channels, at current prices, 2016-21

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

Market

Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.

Consumer

Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

Brand/Company

Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

Data

Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

Below is a sample report, understand what you are buying.

Click to show report

Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted. Also, our reports come in PDF, Powerpoint, Word and Excel Databook formats.

Trusted by companies. Big and small.

Bell Logo - Mintel client
Boots Logo - Mintel Client
Kelloggs Logo - Mintel client
Samsung Logo - Mintel client
Nike Logo - Mintel client
Walgreens Logo - Mintel client

Want to speak to us directly?

Contact us on via phone or fill out a form with your enquiry.

Contact Us