The deli cheese category has seen massive gains amid the pandemic—and the growth is expected to continue in coming years. In 2020, sales of deli cheese in the U.S. market accelerated +19.2% YOY, and the category has continued to grow in 2021 so far, up +3.6% YOY, according to IRI’s Total US-Multi Outlet data ending Oct. 31, 2021. On a global scale, Statista forecasts that the cheese market, valued at $70 billion in 2019, will reach $106 billion by 2026.
Projected growth for the category as a whole is great news for retailers—and it presents an opportunity to expand sales beyond industry expectations, too. By zeroing in on shoppers’ priorities and offering the cheeses they most prefer, grocers can position themselves as consumers’ go-to locale when they shop for a quality cheese.
Count on convenience, quality
As consumers are making more meals at home, easy-to-use deli cheese forms are driving category growth. Chunk is the most popular form, representing 25% of sales, and is also the most versatile, able to be sliced for a charcuterie board or shredded to top an entree. Convenient forms such as sliced, crumbled, shredded and shaved are driving 12% growth versus the prior year, according to IRI.
In 2020, consumers craved the restaurant experience, and premium cheeses such as Parmesan and Gruyere drove significant sales growth for the category (47% and 32% YOY, respectively), according to IRI. In 2021, premium priced cheeses have continued to resonate with consumers who are looking to support local artisans with hand-crafted cheeses and explore global cuisines via imported delicacies. In fact, IRI reports that 2021 sales of premium priced cheeses (greater than $20 per pound) grew +13% versus the prior year, and super premium priced cheese (greater than $30 per pound) grew +40% versus the prior year.
In other words, sales of quality cheeses and convenient cuts are at the crux of category growth—and home cooks looking to elevate meals with a premium cheese or shorten prep time for their favorite recipes have likely played a role in driving demand for these attributes. And by tailoring the deli cheese case to these shoppers’ priorities, grocery retailers can position themselves to cash in on category growth.
Top of trends
Retailers can further maximize sales of exact-weight cheeses by turning to brands with their finger on the pulse of what’s new and next in consumers’ cheese preferences. Offering meal inspiration can help drive unplanned purchases, for example, and callouts for sustainability can help catch the attention of eco-conscious shoppers.
Emmi Roth offers domestic and imported cheeses to draw in shoppers from every corner of the market. The Roth Cheese line combines the best of traditional Swiss cheesemaking techniques with the freshness and appeal of milk from local Wisconsin dairy farmers. Kindred Creamery, also hailing from Wisconsin, prioritizes animal welfare and affordability in tandem with quality. The Emmi line, offering authentic imports made in Switzerland, brings a variety of top-quality Gruyère, Emmentaler, Raclette, Kaltbach Cave-Aged cheeses and more to cheese counters nationwide.
For any home chef and every occasion, an artisanal cheese can elevate a recipe in a snap. To learn more about how cheeses from Emmi Roth can help supermarket retailers drive sales among quality-driven shoppers, visit Emmi Roth.
This post is sponsored by Emmi Roth