Within the Continental cheese segment, which consists of semi-hard yellow cheeses such as Gouda, Edam, Tilsit and Maasdam, two diverging trends are present.
Increased demand for premium continental cheese
The first trend is a clear demand from consumers for more differentiation. Interest in local or regional cheese is on the rise, as well as for specialized, premium cheeses from other parts of the world. Not only are consumers interested in the taste differentiation, they buy into the craftsmanship and the story behind cheese as well. So you shouldn’t be surprised to find a three-year-old Gouda, or even a five-year-old Gouda in stores in California or even in Shanghai.
Increased demand for basic continental cheese
The second trend is an increased demand for basic continental cheese, which is often marketed under private label brands. For basic continental cheese, the market demands depend on who is buying it and where they are located: For sandwich cheese, taste and texture are important, while meltability is important for pizza cheese, and long shelf life is extremely important for cheese destined for exports.
The market for both premium and basic continental cheese has seen a steep rise in the selection of convenient, ready-to-use cheese packs holding slices, shreds, snack bites etc. in recent years. This put increased demands on sliceability and shredability.