individuals who don’t drink alcohol, as well as
those who are not yet old enough to do so.”
What’s more, cheese and soft drink pairings
offer unique opportunities for new educational
classes, tastings and specials at retail, particu-
larly at those stores that don’t sell alcoholic bev-
erages, she says.
Bold and Global Flavors
Driven by consumers’ desire for new flavor
experiences—often in combination with familiar foods—bold, exotic and global flavors are
another hot cheese trend for 2018. “Consumers
are experimental when it comes to flavor, and
they’re open to trying new spice blends,” says
Kareen Stephens, brand manager for Schuman
Cheese in Fairfield, N.J. “Having bold flavors on
a base of familiar cheese types like cheddar or
Parmesan makes it approachable yet exciting.”
Aligned with the bold flavor trend, Schuman
is expanding its Yellow Door Creamery Hand-Rubbed Fontina line with new flavors such as
Cowboy Chipotle and Dijon Herb, as well as
new Bacon BBQ Cheddar and Tomato Basil
Parmesan flavors of its Whisps Cheese Crisps.
The WMMB, which reports that retail volume sales of flavored cheese are outpacing
growth in the total cheese category, has identified “bold flavor” as a top trend this year. It
sees spicy cheeses (such as Nasonville Dairy’s
Carolina Reaper Cheddar), smoked cheeses
(such as Red Apple Cheese’s Smoked Swiss),
and herb-flavored cheese (such as Henning’s
Wisconsin Cheese’s Onion and Chive Cheddar)
as a fast-growing segment of the category.
“The U.S. has an increasingly diverse popu-
lation, which means that taste preferences are
being driven by diverse cuisines,” says Hiebert
of the IDDBA. “Added herbs like dill, sage
and rosemary have been popular in cheeses
for some time in the U.S., and now we’re see-
ing more European-influenced flavors in
cheese like black pepper, balsamic vinegar
and red wine.”
“Flavored cheeses are a growing cate-
gory,” agrees Flynne Wiley, CEO of Cham-
pignon North America Inc., the Englewood
Cliffs, N.J.-based import, sales and market-
ing arm of Kaserei Champignon in the U.S.
“These kinds of cheeses add variety when
putting together a cheese plate.”
Champignon also sees growth in bolder
cheeses, such as washed rind and farm-
Artisan Reserve cheeses
are handcrafted and
aged 100 days.
Growth of the specialty
cheese market from
2014 to 2016.
its certification speaks to “a growing global
movement of people using business as a force
for good.” ACS members such as Rogue Creamery, Vermont Creamery, Cabot and KeHE are
all B Corp certified.
Fresh Ideas in Serving and Pairing
A specialty cheese and food buyer with
O’Brien’s Market for more than two decades,
Baird has expertly fielded thousands of questions from customers over the years.
What’s the most frequent shopper inquiry?
“Serving and pairing suggestions are the No. 1
question asked to help guide [shoppers] in the
best way for the cheese to be highlighted,” says
Baird. This is where cheese professionals can
share useful, actionable advice.
“You can’t open a food magazine without finding cheese as an ingredient in a recipe or how to
pair cheese with this beverage or that snack—
this is great news,” says Baird. “We are always
researching the best way to meet consumer
demand and also help educate them through
cooking applications and serving suggestions.”
Today’s consumers are increasingly experimental, so retailers would be wise to consider
nontraditional pairings as well. For example, the
ACS has identified “dry” or nonalcoholic beverage pairings with cheese as a growing trend.
“We all know that cheese is a natural partner
with wine, beer and cider, but now we’re also
seeing great cheese pairings with nonalcoholic
beverages including tea, coffee and even natural sodas,” says Weiser. “These pairings help to
expand the audience for artisan cheese to include