More Cheese Please: The Biggest Opportunities Within the Cheese Market

It’s no secret that consumers love cheese. From snacks to sandwiches, dips, and even cheese boards, cheese is a crowd favorite. Today’s cheese aisles are crowded with a variety of options for bricks, shreds, snacks, and slices. There’s the simple picks and the gourmet options, and just about everything in between. Because of this, as a brand owner, it takes effort to get noticed and get even a shred of the cheese market share. 

Whether you’re a new brand or a seasoned veteran of the market, you know how important it is to create a winning product in the right package. So, as you launch your next cheese product, or improve upon your current product, consider these cheese industry trends and opportunities within the segment that will have your consumers saying, “more cheese please!”

Cheese Snacks Show Big Opportunity 

According to Innova Market Insights, consumers are snacking more today than ever before. But it isn’t just plain old chips or pretzels – consumers are looking for snacks that provide a bit more sustenance to keep them fuller, longer. Protein is a major trend within healthy snacking as more consumers crave protein-rich foods, less sugar, and snacks that follow certain diets, like Ketogenic. Innova further reports that healthy snacking options have shown the fastest growth in new product development in the last five years, and consumers are willing to pay a premium for it. 

So, what does this all mean for the cheese segment? 

This means there is a big opportunity for brand owners to launch more cheese snacks to address this growing desire for protein-rich snacks. Because while snacking is up globally, according to Research and Markets, dairy-based snacks account for only 13% of the total snacks consumed. But that isn’t to say that cheese sales are down, overall. In fact, IRI research firm reports that global cheese consumption continues to expand at the retail level. 

That means that there is a ton of untapped opportunity for brand owners today to create more cheese snacks to set their brands apart. Consider launching your next cheese product as a snack, whether as cubes, crisps, sticks, or on-the-go slices, or even in a snack pack with other items, like fruit and nuts. 

Keepin’ It Natural

Whether it’s for a cheese snack, or for at-home use, consider that consumers are looking for more natural cheese products than in the past. Natural and clean labels are trending within the segment and IRI reports a multi-year downward trend for processed cheese, as consumers opt for less processed, and more whole or natural varieties. So consider adding natural options to your product line and if your product is all natural or certified organic, make sure to showcase that prominently on your packaging. 

Consumer Are Looking for Bold Flavors

Another trend in the segment? Bold flavors. There is rising demand among consumers, especially the younger generation, for new, fun, and even global flavors in dairy. Innova Market Insights reports that Americans love to discover new flavors. Many brands are capitalizing on this by offering their cheese products in new flavors to draw cheese lovers in. Big brands like Sargento, offer flavors like garlic and herb jack, as well as tomato and basil jack, while Cabot sells Horseradish Cheddar, Smokey Bacon Cheddar, and Hot Buffalo Wing Cheddar. Even Whisps offers its cheese snacks in flavors like tomato basil, bacon BBQ, and asiago & pepper jack. 

There are so many opportunities today to deliver a flavored cheese product that sets your brand apart. If flavors aren’t your thing, it’s important to mention that consumers today are also looking for variety beyond the usual cheddar and mozzarella. They’re getting more adventurous with the lesser-known varieties like gouda, goat, gruyere, and Havarti. 

New Snack Launches in Pouches

Snack food packaging is all about convenience. And one trending cheese snack product has that all figured out. Have you noticed all the crispy cheese snack options out there that look like crackers? These 100% cheese snacks do not need refrigeration and are typically sold in stand-up, resealable pouches, so they are easy to take on the go, pack in lunches, or even eat in the car. Today, more and more brands, including private labels, are jumping on this trend and launching their version of the new baked cheese snack. When it comes to snacking, single-portion packages and attractive, resealable, and easily disposable, pouches rule.

Photo from our friends at Key Eats

Convenience Package Rules for Cheese

The consumer quest for convenience goes beyond snacking– it starts at home. Many sliced and shredded cheese varieties offer that sought-after convenience for consumers as they prepare breakfast, lunch, or dinner, with resealable pouches and bags. These types of packaging ensure that it’s easy to open and reclose several times to maintain the freshness of the cheese inside. Be it shredded, cubed, sliced, or even a brick of cheese, many packagers are choosing a reclosable package to preserve freshness, and make consumers’ lives a little easier. 

It’s important to note that when talking about cheese, be it as snacks, in bold flavors, or sold as cubes, slices or sticks, convenient packaging is the one thing that ties these all together. Resealable packaging for cheese is a must. It works to keep oxygen and moisture out, preserving the freshness of the cheese inside, and staving off mold. Reseal is also just easier to open and close as consumers handle the package day in and day out. Remember, a big part of launching a new product is doing so in the right package.

Digital Printing Is the Difference

Have you considered how digital printing can help you set your cheese brand apart? As you launch new varieties and flavors, consider that with ePac’s digital printing platform, it’s just as easy (and cost-effective) to print three SKUs as it is to print 30. With digital printing, there are never any pates or set-up fees, so you’re not restricted to how many flavors you can offer. And with digitally printed pouches that offer resealability, easy open, and single-serving sized options, ePac can deliver the right cheese packaging for your application. Ready to learn about how ePac’s digitally printed custom pouches can help you set your cheese brand apart from the competition? Call us today or drop us a line.