Madison, Wis. – Americans' love affair with specialty cheese isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Volume sales of specialty cheese have grown five times as fast as the cheese category overall in the past year, according to IRI.
Wisconsin is known for its award winning, handcrafted specialty cheeses. Statewide specialty cheese production increased by 7 percent in the past year, according to the USDA.
With this increase in mind, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) has predicted the top five ways consumers will look to enjoy Wisconsin specialty cheese in 2018:
On a Cheese Board
Sixty-nine percent of millennials report taking a photo or video of their food before eating according to a study by Maru/Matchbox. Creating Instagram-worthy foods like cheese boards made with Wisconsin specialty cheese is a growing trend among millennials. To date there are over 237,000 images of beautifully crafted cheese boards on Instagram, many of which feature award-winning Wisconsin specialty cheeses like Upland's Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Hook's 10-Year Aged Cheddar and Roelli™ Cheese Haus' Dunbarton Blue® to name a few.
With Bold Flavor
Wisconsin cheesemakers are embracing bigger, bolder flavors by developing unique flavored cheeses and specialty products. Smoked cheeses like Red Apple Cheese's Smoked Swiss, herb and vegetable flavored cheese like Henning's Wisconsin Cheese's Onion and Chive Cheddar, and cheeses with spicy flavorings like Nasonville Dairy's Carolina Reaper Cheddar are all fast-growing segments of the cheese category as consumers increasingly reach for more flavorful cheeses. Retail volume sales of flavored cheese are also outpacing growth in the total cheese category with flavored cheese increasing by 1.5 percent compared to the total cheese category.
Blended with Other Varieties
Unique cheese varieties and blends of Wisconsin specialty cheeses are popping up on restaurant menus across the country. Wisconsin swiss, burrata and gouda are three of the fastest-growing cheeses currently being blended and used on pizza, while unique blends like Roth® Buttermilk Blue Cheese with Sartori Montamoré®, or Marieke® Smoked Gouda with Clock Shadow Creamery Ricotta are examples of standout combinations.
For a Gourmet Snack
Cheese is the fastest growing savory snack between meals, according to the NPD Group. This fact is driving Wisconsin cheesemakers to think beyond the mozzarella cheese stick and develop sophisticated snacks made with Wisconsin specialty cheese. New products like Carr Valley Cheese's Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar Cheese Stix® and BelGioioso's Provolone Cheese & Genoa Salami Snacking Rolls are two examples of Wisconsin cheese companies embracing this trend.
In a Meal Kit
Meal kits are a quick and easy way for consumers to enjoy fresh, local ingredients like Wisconsin specialty cheese every night of the week. According to Neilsen, one in four adults has purchased a meal kit in the last year and 70 percent continue to use them after making their first purchase. Blue Apron, who offers a Wisconsin-Style Potato and Cheddar Soup made with Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese, is one of the many meal kit companies incorporating specialty cheese into their recipes.
For more information about WMMB, visit www.wmmb.org or connect with the company on Facebook.