Consumer demand for cheese as one of the favorite snacks globally has risen following the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic influenced snacking trends that have led to heightened demand for comfort foods, ease of convenience, and healthy snacks. (1) A significant portion of the global population (52%) is shifting towards consuming snacks which have increased during the pandemic (88%). (2) This has influenced innovation in the cheese sector, with key innovations in cheese pointing toward natural, healthy, highly nutritious, transparency in the ingredients and processing, clean label, and sustainability. (3) Although Western Europe, at 36%, is the largest consumer of cheese, followed by North America in 2020, the trend is shifting toward Australasia and China. (8) 

The global cheese-snacking market enjoyed a share of $64 billion in 2021 and sales are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3% by 2030. (2) Snacking cheese is preferred by most of the population due to its nutrient properties, portability, and unique taste. (4) With the emergence of new brands and food startups, cheese snacks are gaining more momentum. This has led to snack manufacturers producing more cheese snacks. (2) The inclusion of a variety of cheese flavors in salty snacks has fostered an emotional attachment to cheese snack brands. When it comes to flavor, Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Parmesan are North America and Europe's most popular cheese snack flavors. Additionally, dairy flavors such as milk and cream play a central role in savory snack flavors in Asian countries. One trend that has remained consistent in the cheese industry is the onslaught of new flavors such as nettle-infused, international inspiration, upscale and exotic. (5)  

Cheese innovation continues to skyrocket, particularly since consumers are seeking cheese snacks with more health and nutritional benefits such as high protein and calcium content without sacrificing taste. (3) Recently, cheese-makers are looking at new approach — precision fermentation — for producing dairy protein. This process has placed dairy proteins in an advantageous position when compared with the plant protein market where taste remains a challenging factor. (6) Yet, precision fermentation-derived dairy protein can substitute traditional cheese, providing a viable option for individuals with dietary restrictions such as lactose intolerance.

The trends in the cheese industry post-pandemic are geared towards enhancing nutrition, taste, fortification, sustainability, and gut health. Specifically, there is a growing demand for low-fat, high-protein, mineral, and fiber-enriched, additive-free, and sustainably produced cheese. To cater to health-conscious consumers who prefer healthy snacking options, cheese snacks provide a natural source of high protein and low-fat milk with added health benefits. One new segment of the cheese snack market is solid shelf-stable cheese snacks (SSSCs). These snacks are exclusively made out of natural cheese that has been dehydrated, which makes them nutritious, satiating, and portable with an appealing texture. For added appeal, SSSCs are offered in different sizes, shapes, formats, and flavors. (7)  However, there is a need for further research to improve nutrition and gut health, reduce sodium content and promote sustainable production practices. Innovations in new packaging materials also deserve exploring.

Sonali Raghunath Patrice Stratton

Sonali Raghunath, left, is a Food Engineer cum laude scientist working on her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota to better understand how novel food processing technologies can be used to improve the functionality of food proteins. She has a B.Tech in Food Technology from Anna University, Chennai, India, and her M.S. in Food Science from the University of Minnesota. Sonali is a proud recipient of various leadership awards and scholarships from IFT Feeding Tomorrow, including the Excellence in Leadership Graduate award from IFT and MnDRIVE Global food ventures. She has served as both a student and social media lead for the IFT Dairy Foods Division, and is a Past Student Committee Chair of IFTNPD.
Patrice Stratton holds a master’s degree in Food Science with graduate certificates in Bakery Science and Food Safety & Defense. She has authored some publications in renowned chemistry journals and been quoted several times in Food Technology magazine. Patrice is the Past Chair of the Carbohydrate Division (2022-2023), Member-at-Large of the Dairy Foods Division (2022-2023), and an Emerging Leaders Network Participant (2020). She currently is a food consultant focusing on regulatory and research and development endeavors.


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  3. Kaczorowski M. 2023. A year of innovation in cheese, 2022 - Mintel.
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  5. 2022. Kerry issues report on global cheese snacks trends | Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery. Kerry Reveal Cheese Rep .
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  8. 2022. Global Cheese Market Trends for 2023 | Glanbia Nutritionals. Glanbia Nutr Insights. Retrieved 5 May 2023.