Carst and Walker

BMI Food Bites: Speciality cheese in SA 2011

Speciality cheese has come a long way in the past two decades, where previously it was super-premium and largely unknown and unexplored by the majority of consumers. It is a broad sector that BMI Research breaks down into four categories. As can be expected for high-end foodstuffs in recessionary times, market growth has been stable to negative.

Speciality Italian Cheese Market Trends 2011 – 38,3 market share

This category encompasses all Italian cheeses that are not classified elsewhere, includes the likes of mascarpone, Pecorino and ricotta.

  • The speciality Italian cheese market saw a small decline in growth during 2011. This comes as consumers shift their focus away from buying individual products such as cheese, towards purchasing ready made or “just add” products such as pasta meal kits etc.
  • This product is primarily imported and some importers have been decreasing their imports, as local production of this product is becoming quite sufficient for the demand.
  • The future growth for this market is low, with the category expected to remain at current production levels over the next few years.

Other Speciality Cheese Market Trends 2011 – 37,5% market share

This encompasses all speciality cheese that is not categorised elsewhere, and includes the likes of goat’s milk cheese, Leyden, Gruyere, haloumi, havarti, Colby and Amsterdammer.

  • Other speciality cheese is the second largest category within the speciality cheese sector. Market growth stabilised in 2011, continuing the 2010 trend. While less focus is felt in this category as a whole, ‘other speciality cheese’ still has a large impact in the market.
  • This category is prone to influence from outside factors. This has been attributed to the slowing of growth, as many producers felt the market was affected by milk production and consumer choices.
  • Many manufacturers commented on the perception of this market as a high- end category, and indicate that consumers will look for alternative cheeses such as Cheddar and Gouda and mozzarella rather than purchasing a cheese which they may not feel as familiar.
  • Several channel outlets noted that they saw an increase in popularity of this cheese during 2011, as markets stabilised and pro-active advertising improved knowledge of these products which has helped to keep the growth in an upwardly-positive trend.
  • Of this market, haloumi commands a 15% share, Pecorino a 0,1% share and the rest of the category a 84,9% share.

Mould Cheese Market Trends 2011 – 16,6% market share

This includes both white and blue mould cheeses. White mould cheeses are generally soft white bloomy rind cheeses with a mild flavour and creamy texture, where Blue mould cheeses have a strong, tangy taste and pungent aroma with a generally smooth texture.

  • The mould cheese market saw growth in 2011, the results of a market starting to stabilise after manufacturers injected larger volumes and imports that increased significantly in 2010.
  • The market has seen great dedication given to its growth over the past few years, as producers push for this sector to become more popular. The promotion has been felt within the health conscious consumers of South Africa.
  • Mould cheeses have, in previous years, often been aimed towards the higher end consumer, but this view has been transferred through promotions and advertisements.
  • The majority of this product is sold in bulk from counters in the form of cheese wheels. This trend has seen little change, as consumers can control how much of the product they purchase.
  • Manufacturers have also stated in previous years that this bulk selling is a bonus to themselves as it allows them to keep production costs lower, helping to keep the pricing of this category down.

Parmesan-Type Cheeses Market Trends 2011 – 7,6% market share

This category includes Parmesan as well as Provolone. Parmesan is defined as a straw coloured cheese with a grainy texture and a sweet nutty flavour, which is generally matured for a minimum of 12 months and Provolone is defined as a straw coloured or light cheese.

  • Parmesan cheese saw a decrease during 2011, as the emphasis on this smaller category was moved to the larger categories, and producers assumed that this market was always used primarily in the foodservices market with some consumption at home and has declined during 2011, with a reduction of sales in the retail channel.
  • There has been little innovation in the packaging of Parmesan-type cheeses, with the majority of the product being packaged into 200g packs for use in the home and restaurants. Some foodservice outlets utilise bulk portion packaging as it is cheaper, though those pack sizes saw a decline since last year.

Market share by province- click to enlarge

Speciality Cheese Distribution
Gauteng share’s declined during 2011 as the smaller regions received more dedication from producers and outlets. Western Cape saw a
strong growth in 2011, gaining 2.1% share over the other regions.

BMI Research:

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