Cheese sales soared last year, with Kantar retail data showing a 15 per cent increase in volume, and 17 per cent in value.
While regionals, speciality and continental, and soft cheese gained the greatest volume growth with over 20 per cent, Cheddar remains the nation’s favourite with almost half of all cheese sales.
As the country stayed at home for much of 2020, 1.2 billion more cheese occasions were enjoyed in-home, a 20 per cent increase on 2019, which outperformed overall food and drink uplift at 12 per cent.
British classic ‘cheese on toast’ led the way, with 35 per cent more being consumed than in 2019.
However, it was the versatility of cheese and its ability to bring more flavour to any dish that was the biggest driver of the increase, bringing over 500 million new meal occasions.
Spaghetti Bolognese is one such dish that benefits from a simple sprinkling of cheese, which saw 349 million meal occasions last year, an increase of 12 per cent on 2019.
Although restrictions led consumers to indulge or experiment more with different cheeses, health also drove different cheese choices, influencing 64 million new cheese occasions, with naturalness the main focus for most health conscience consumers.
AHDB’s consumer insight analyst Rachel Rose said: “Cheese really is a firm favourite for British consumers, with 99 per cent of households buying it over the last 12 months.
“Multiple lockdowns and restricted food service seems to have encouraged shoppers to try new varieties, and find new ways to bring cheese into their diets.
“While retail sales are likely to stabilise as life begins to return to normal, processors and retailers can focus on key areas such as health, or lunchtime and snacking.
“As while cheese as a sandwich filling remains a lunchtime staple, development could open up new opportunities in this area.”
Mirroring cheese’s success in 2020, red meat and dairy sales saw impressive retail figures right through 2020 and have continued into 2021.
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