The king of the specialty food industry reigns supreme for another year as it raked in more sales at retail than any other of the SFA’s 61 categories. Specialty Cheese and Plant-Based Cheese items brought in $4.4 billion in 2016 and snagged 7.7 percent of the overall market share.
There are a number of factors propelling the category’s success, starting with the Millennials’ preference of entertaining friends, thereby making cheese boards and wine pairings popular. The younger generations are also driving the demand for adventurous flavors, sophisticated ingredients and an overall experience. With endless varieties, new bold flavors and thousands of small-production familyowned farms, specialty cheese appeases their yearning for all of the above.
Cheese and plant-based alternatives are also garnering attention for their health benefits, as consumers search for high-in-protein snacking sources. As Americans become more healthconscious, vegan and soy-based cheeses will continue to grow alongside plant-based foods in general, according to the SFA data.
Remember, cheese is considered a “gateway item” for consumers who have not yet tried or purchased specialty foods. To get them hooked, ensure your cheese section is approachable; offer plenty of educational materials, pairing suggestions and employee oversight; and cross-merchandise displays with complementing wines, jams, nuts and even a few cheese boards.
Blackberry Patch Preserves for Cheese are specifically created to pair with a range of soft and hard cheeses. They’re inspired by the company’s hometown cheesemaker, Sweet Grass Dairy. Each jar features a complementing cheese on its label.
800/853-5598 or BlackberryPatch.com
Finlandia Cheese’s premium Swiss Cheese recipe was named Best of Class in the Swiss Style category at The United States Championship Cheese Contest in March 2017. Produced by Guggisberg Cheese of Millersburg, Ohio, and aged for 100 days, it boasts a rich and nutty flavor.
Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan has the rich, nutty authentic flavor of Grana Padano. Made in copper vats with strict traditional methods, this award-winning cheese’s crunchy texture and robust flavors are the result of brining and aging.
800/888-2433 or CelloCheese.com
Kindred Creamery is a new brand of specialty Wisconsin cheeses from Emmi Roth USA and Meister Cheese Company. It features a variety of both classic and unique flavored cheeses. Its Medium Cheddar offers a rich, nutty flavor and creamy texture.
608/845-5796 or EmmiRothUSA.com
BelGioioso has taken its award-winning Burrata one step further and added a delicate yet flavorful ingredient: Black Truffles. Packaged in 8-ounce retail cups with water with shelf life up to 37 days.
877/863-2123 or Belgioioso.com
High in protein, all natural and gluten-free, Moon Cheese is real dehydrated cheese. The moisture has been removed but the nutrients are still in tact. Flavors are Pepper Jack, Cheddar and Gouda.
360/366-4567 or MoonCheese.com
Made in 9-pound wheels, Emmi Roth’s new product, Kaltbach Le Crémeux, is a semifirm cheese with a washed-rind. It’s crafted with pasteurized milk and aged a minimum of 120 days in the Kaltbach caves in Switzerland’s Alpine Valley.
608/845-5796 or EmmiUSA.com
Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese, known for its unique flavors, launched Bacon Cheddar with slowly cured real bacon pieces blended in yellow cheddar. Available in random weights, retail pre-cuts and 8-ounce, 5-pound and 40-pound blocks.
920/894-3032 or HenningsCheese.com
Toma is an all-natural, pasteurized, semi-hard table cheese with a waxed rind. The flavor is full of rich creamery butter with a grassy tang finish. Perfect for melting and pairs well with craft beer. Retail $18 per pound
415/663-8880 or PointReyesCheese.com
BelGioioso introduced 6-ounce bags of Parmesan snacks. Packed eight pieces per bag, and 10 bags per case, each .75-ounce portion has 7 grams of protein and 80 calories for snacking or use in a rotary cheese grater. SRP $4.99 per bag
877/863-2123 or Belgioioso.com
Somerdale International, an exporter of British dairy products, has launched a fully accredited non-GMO British cheese: Double Gloucester with Chives & Onions, which combines the creamy texture of double gloucester with the tang of chives and onions. SRP $10.99 per pound
Firm, dense and slightly salty, Capra Stanislaus is Nicolau Farms’ flagship cheese that’s made from quality goat Capra milk with notes of caramel, toasted nuts, and mild olive undertones from a sea salt brine.
From Saputo Specialty Cheese, Great Midwest’s Snackin Cheese is a combination of Wisconsin part-skim mozzarella string cheese bites and mild cheddar cheese cubes. Available in 1-pound resealable bags and a smaller 6-ounce package.
262/677-3651 or Saputo.com
Whisps are all-natural cheese snacks made only from pure cheese that’s baked into flavorful, airy, crispy bites. Asiago Pepper Jack is the newest flavor to launch, joining Parmesan and Cheddar.
800/888-2433 or SchumanCheese.com