Posted: 06/12/2016

Supermarket cheddar sales in decline

CheddarSupermarkets’ sales of cheddar have fallen both in volume and value, according to the latest research from Kantar Worldpanel.

While cheddar still accounts for 53% of cheese volume sold, the market research company said sales by value of traditional cheddar had fallen 4.2% in the year to the week ending August 14 to £1.38bn and volumes had declined 2.3% to 227.4m kg.

Blue cheese sales climbed 7.8% to £84.3m and volumes leapt 12.9% to 9.5m kg, Kantar found.

The research was based on the household grocery purchasing habits of 30,000 demographically representative households in Great Britain which means that the findings are skewed to trends through supermarkets because that is where most people shop.

A comparatively small number of panel members will shop in speciality retailers so the findings do not necessarily reflect what is happening among Guild of Fine Food members.

Speciality cheese sellers told FFD they are seeing a totally different set of dynamics because of their more discerning customers’ buying habits.

Janet Dean, who owns The Cheese Emporium at Altrincham Market, in Cheshire, said she had not noticed any change in the performance of blues, adding that cheddars and Lancashires were still ahead of the pack.

“We’ve found that the flavoured cheeses have fallen out of favour – anything with fruit in or chillies – the messed-about ones,” she said. “Wensleydale with cranberries is about the only one we are still finding people ask for.”

Richard Clarke, co-owner of Perfect Partners wine and cheese shop in Cranbrook, Kent, said performance of different cheeses varied according to time of year, such as traditional cheddars, Stilton and brie in the run-up to Christmas, but throughout the year, instead of Stilton, a lot more Perl Las, the local Brighton Blue, and Kentish Blue sold well but not in the last week before Christmas.

Customers want to buy local but they often seek something “different” – cheeses they cannot find in supermarkets, such as local Burwash Rose instead of Stinking Bishop, which Clarke said was just as “pongy”.

Many supermarkets get “panicked” by unpasteurised whereas most of his customers actively seek it out, Clarke added.

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