It has been a very, very good year for cheese, at least within the major retail channels.
Dollar sales within the natural cheese category shot up 17.0% to $15,449.5 million during the 52 weeks ending Oct. 4, 2020, according to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI. Unit sales climbed 9.7% to 4,391.0 million in the same timeframe.
But perhaps the bigger news can be found in the processed cheese category, which saw a remarkable reversal of a multi-year string of sales declines. The category’s dollar sales rose 14.6% to $3,206.9 million. Unit sales increased 7.7% to 780.0 million.
Shredded is a natural star
Shredded natural cheese posted the most significant dollar sales gains within the natural cheese category. The subcategory saw dollar sales jump 22.8% to $5,982.0 million and unit sales rise 13.7% to 1,834.8 million.
The Tillamook brand was the overachiever among the top 10 brands within the shredded natural cheese segment. It posted dollar and unit sales gains of 48.5% and 40.6%, respectively. Dutch Farms was close behind, with 38.1% and 25.3% increases in dollar and unit sales.
None of the top 10 brands posted dollar sales declines. But Kraft realized a 7.7% decrease in unit sales, and Crystal Farms’ unit sales took a 0.8% tumble.
Refrigerated grated cheese came in second among the natural cheese subcategories in terms of a dollar sales increase. Dollar sales within the segment rose 20.8% to $137.1 million. Unit sales shot up 21.3% to 38.3 million.
The combined brands of Schuman Cheese had the most success among the top 10 brands, posting dollar and unit sales gains of 160.0% and 166.0%, respectively.
Shredded wins on processed side, too
Within the processed cheese category, the shredded processed/imitation cheese subcategory saw the most significant dollar sales gains: up 21.9% to $112.0 million. Unit sales within that segment increased a more modest 3.9%.