Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, conducted conducted extensive consumer research in cheddar cheese buying habits. This is a summary of the findings.
The research found that 45% of participants expressed that they “couldn’t live without cheese”. Almost three quarters of respondents (72%) consumed Cheddar Cheese on a weekly+ basis with 14% of those daily users. 85% of respondents stated that cheese was healthy and nutritious with 84% also recognising that cheese is a natural product which is high in protein.
Families found it particularly useful in their household because of its versatility (96%), likeability (89%) and children will eat it (87%) and they enjoy the taste of cheddar (94%). By far the most popular use for cheddar is in a cheese toastie (52%).
Value for money is important to consumers and cheese showed itself to be with 85% seeing it as a relatively low cost food. It was noted though that 53% of respondents always look for best price and switch brands based on offers. Consumer demand for low prices have put pressure on brands to offer promotions. Through 2017 and early 2018, all sales growth in the cheddar category came from promotion sales – multibuys and temporary price reductions. Nearly half of shoppers opted for “own brand” cheddar. 70% of respondents are not loyal to a brand and 4 in 10 don’t see any difference between brands.
There was a split between those who feel cheese is healthy (68%) and those who are concerned about the impact cheddar has on their health (22%) with younger respondents being more concerned than older respondents.The Insight report points to the need to communicate the positive health benefits to younger consumers; E.g. Cheese is low in sugar, high in protein, high in calcium, cheddar is sustaining (slow release energy), potentially good for gut health and delivers specific vitamins.
The format in which cheddar cheese is regularly purchased was as follows 8 in 10 buy blocks, with just over 2 in 5 (42%) opting for grated, and 41% buying sliced. Regular cheddar is the most preferred. Some 3 in 5 claim to be consuming cheddar themselves, with just over 4 in 10 (41%) claiming all members of their household consume.In households with children there is a greater prevalence of grated, sliced and kids cheese snacks being purchased. There was an even split between the preferred colours of cheddar, but the overall preference amongst buyers is for mature/extra mature strength cheddar cheese. Younger consumers (18-24) are more likely to prefer regular strength cheddar.
The insight report points at ways businesses could increase sales of alternative cheeses to try to move consumers away from the €2 offering.
The Insight Report recommends the use of a cheese compass to better target offerings at specific consumers. Suggestions such as ensuring kids cheese snacks are not positioned next to unhealthy food choices, more persuasive shelf standouts for flavoured options, in general it found cheddar merchandising to be unimaginative and generally health focused. The report perceives potential in more adding more interesting flavours (e.g. Irish seaweed or wild Irish garlic), giving more focus to the story, and also in extending the use through recipe promotions, couplings and snacks. Promoting health benefits, snack opportunities and an environmental focus, e.g. green packaging solutions, are other routes to engage younger buyers.
Tastings offer a useful merchandising opportunity, the report notes that “68% of people in the UK say that they are more likely to buy a cheese that they have been able to sample” (Mintel, 2017)
Ingredient Solutions Ltd supply a wide range of cheeses to the food industry. We are well known for our superb range of cheddar cheeses. Our Yellow Road cheese is the leading food service brand in Ireland and we are now able to supply dairy free solutions for cheese loving vegans.