Natural cheese continues to dominate in the cheese category. The natural cheese category showed dollar sales up 0.3% to $12.9 billion, while unit sales stayed at $3.9 billion, according to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 31, 2017.

Sales in the processed cheese category didn’t fare as well. Dollar sales decreased 1.9% to $2.9 billion, and unit sales were down 3.6% to 748.3 million.


Shreds, slices up  

In the natural cheese shredded subcategory, dollar sales increased 1.1% to $4.8 billion, and unit sales were up 1.2% to 1.5 billion. Private label led the subcategory with $2.9 billion. Dollar sales rose 4% and unit sales climbed 4.5% to 902.3 million. Kraft brand dollar sales also improved, up 1.6%, and unit sales ticked up 0.8%. Tillamook gave the subcategory a boost, dollar sales jumped 27.1% and unit sales advanced 34.9%.

Meanwhile, several other companies struggled. Dollar sales for Sargento dropped 10.7%, and unit sales decreased 11.4%. Kraft’s Philadelphia and Velveeta brands both showed declines — dollar sales dropped 7.6% and 8.4%, and unit sales fell 9% and 6.1%, respectively. Dollar and unit sales dipped for Borden as well, down 17.6% and 17.1%, respectively.

The natural cheese slices subcategory enjoyed a 2.1% dollar sales increase to $2.2 billion, and unit sales increased 1.8% to 692.9 million. Once again, private label topped the subcategory with $925.7 million — dollar sales were up 12.5%, and unit sales jumped 10.9%. Sales also improved for both Belgioioso and Boars Head, with dollar sales up 5.9% and 4.6%, and unit sales rising 5.9% and 5.6%, respectively.

Kraft’s sales tumbled, however — dollar and unit sales were down 21.6% and 22.7%, respectively.

Though not as large of a subcategory, refrigerated grated cheese saw impressive sales gains. Dollar sales improved 5.2% to $98.5 million, and unit sales jumped 7.2% to 26.9 million. Private label again led the category, with dollar sales up 13.6% to $50.2 million, and unit sales rising 9.4% to 15.9 million.


Cheese string/stick sales split

The natural cheese string/stick subcategory’s dollar sales improved 0.2% to $1.3 billion, but unit sales dipped 1.2% to 408.8 million. Frigo Cheese Heads (Saputo Cheese) enjoyed a 5.8% increase in dollar sales, and unit sales rose 3.4%. Sargento’s dollar sales also grew, up 1.6%, with unit sales up 0.8%.

Kraft’s sales were split — dollar sales dropped 2%, while unit sales ticked up 0.2%. Meanwhile, Kraft’s Polly-O brand fared better — dollar sales jumped 6.1% and unit sales were up 5.1%.


Processed cheese sales stumble 

All except two of the processed cheese subcategories saw sales declines. The aerosol/squeezable cheese spreads and cheese spreads/balls subcategories enjoyed dollar and unit sales improvements — up 0.5% and 3.1%, and 1% and 1.7%, respectively.