English cheeses lose out as Brits go continental

Date:25-02-2014 08:58:05 read:1

English cheeses lose out as Brits go continental

Price increases have seen sales of continental cheeses rise as people opt for stronger and more exotic varieties

The price of almost all cheese has increased over the past year due to low levels of milk production in the first half of 2013 Photo: Alamy

Sales of British cheeses are suffering as shoppers increasingly choose continental varieties over English staples such as cheddar, research has found.

Last year, sales of cheddar cheese remained almost the same, while continental cheeses increased by almost ten per cent.

Increased availability of foreign cheeses, continental versions being used in cooking and on cookery shows, and higher prices of British cheeses are thought to behind the trend for more exotic varieties.

More people are also choosing stronger cheeses, with sales of extra mature cheese increasing by almost seven per cent and Farmhouse cheese by five per cent, according to analysts Mintel.

The price of almost all cheese has increased over the past year due to low levels of milk production in the first half of 2013 and greater worldwide demand for dairy products, especially in the Far East. In 2013 the price of milk reached its highest value for four years.

The use of foreign cheeses in cooking is thought to be behind the trend, as well as the availability of cheeses in smaller cheaper blocks as people try and save money on shopping.

In the last year sales of continental cheeses increased by 8.2 per cent.

Heidi Lanschützer, food and drink analyst at Mintel, said: "Britain's love for Cheddar still continues to dominate the market, accounting for over 50 per cent of value and 53 per cent of volume sales in 2013. However, the fact that the segment failed to keep pace with the overall market in 2013 reflects both its maturity as well as the fact that consumers are turning to speciality cheeses, notably continental, recipe and blue cheese."

Shoppers are also choosing to buy more healthier cheeses. Low-fat cheese sales topped £70 million for the first time in Britain last year as demand went up 5.6 per cent to 9,800 tonnes. Lighter varieties of cheddar contain about 22 per cent fat compared with 35 per cent for standard cheddar.

Alastair Jackson, marketing manager of cheese maker Adams Foods, said: "Shoppers are switching from full-fat to reduced-fat cheeses, but trading up half-fat varieties. Improved recipes, better taste and more prominence on supermarket shelves has also buoyed the market for lighter cheese.

"Most major suppliers of cheddar have offered reduced-fat versions for some time time now, such as Cathedral City and Anchor. Other cheese makers are developing lighter varieties of its snacking brands."

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