THE ONLY ‘WHEY’ IS UP

Miel Meyer

Supermarkets have been instrumental in broadening cheese lovers’ tastes and purchases, supporting the retail category to grow in 2017, Miel Meyer, chairman of the NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association, told SupermarketNews.
“There is strong demand for fresh authentic artisan cheese. Consumers now want these cheeses for entertaining and cooking, and supermarkets have supported this. They front foot trends – such as cutting fresh from the wheel – which is great to see,” Meyer said.
He also added that in the past decade there had been a significant increase in the number of New Zealand producers, and so had the scale of FMCG merchandising.
“Cheese purchase in supermarkets is strong and will continue to be in 2017. Cheese boards are not just filled with Cheddar, Brie and Blue – but a real selection and variety of cheeses. And customers are asking for cheese styles by name, often stimulated by a fond memory or something they have enjoyed in a restaurant or travelling around New Zealand,” Meyer said.
“New Zealand consumers are more confident and prepared to try new cheeses or even ‘old’ cheeses in new ways, so it will be very important for our industry’s producers and technologists to keep well on top of trends in the retail sector.”
Meyer predicts the speciality category to prosper with fresh goats, sheep and buffalo milk becoming more readily available.
“These positive results come from ongoing consumer education from the industry and ‘worldly’ consumers enjoying a broader range of specialty cheeses. The challenge for NZ cheese producers is to be chosen above imported varieties. The NZ Champions of Cheese
Awards, being judged in March, give customers a way to seek out the best this country has to offer. Having award labels on product is a great way to showcase the pedigree, and help consumers buy the best.”