The UK cheese market reported a growth rate of 5% through 2012, to reach a value of £2,747 million in current value terms.
Almost all households in Britain purchase cheese with the average household buying 1.5 times per week. The typical basket size was up by 4.7% over the last year with the average price paid of £2.70 per kilogram giving a total spend per person of £95.68.
Cheddar brands, including Cathedral City, Seriously Strong, Pilgrims Choice and Wyke Farm account for four of the top six best performing cheese brands. However, the level of promotion means the private label products can be more expensive than the branded offer.
There has also been a rapid growth of both the grated and sliced convenience offer which has been canabalising sales of block cheddar.
In the 16 years since it took over the Cathedral City brand from Mendip Foods, Dairy Crest Group has become the powerhouse of the UK cheese market, with sales reaching an estimated £286 million in 2012, with a 10% share of the total cheese market.
However, despite the dominance and popularity of its brands, the company faced cut-throat competition from private label and mainstream brands in 2012. Its main strategy for success has been aggressive promotional activity, and having to reach deals with retailers in order to stay on shelves.
Innovation was also a core attraction in terms of pack sizes, zipper packs, product variety, cheese blends and strong advertising.
In 2011, there was a shift both in consumers' and retailers' preferences in cheese towards private label brands, with retailers launching more variations of their own brand cheeses and reducing the space for branded cheeses.
In mid-2011, for example, Sainsbury's removed the Wyke Farms and Collier's Powerful cheddar brands in its range review, whilst Morrisons removed Pilgrim's Choice and Tickler from the pre-pack cheddar on its shelves to boost its private label offering.
This gave consumers more choice at a lower price; a requirement as many households reduced their food budgets and looked for lower-priced options.
For more information on the UK cheese market, see the latest research: UK Cheese Market
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