Promotion push targets UK territorial cheese trend

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cheese

Lancashire will soon become the latest British cheese to get a
marketing makeover as Britons renew their interest in regional
cheeses and trade up for variety.

A group of 10 Lancashire cheese makers will get funding from the Milk Development Council (MDC) to make consumers aware of their products.

The cheese makers, whose families have been making Lancashire for between two and four generations, will get help from PR agency Brazen to show how the three different types of Lancashire - crumbly, creamy and tasty - can fit into everyday diets.

The project follows successful campaigns funded by the MDC to promote other regional British cheeses Stilton, West Country Farmhouse and Cheshire.

And it seems the idea is paying off with consumers. The MDC said sales of such territorial cheeses were growing at eight per cent, six per cent ahead of the UK cheese market.

New ideas on how to use Cheshire as part of everyday eating helped sales grow four per cent within the first year of the promotion campaign, after several years of decline. It made up 1.1 per cent of UK household cheese purchases for the year ending 5 December 2005, representing a value of around £25m.

An advertising push on West Country Farmhouse also delivered 20 per cent sales growth there.

Lancashire is now hoping to emulate this success. Philippa Stagg, MDC spokesperson, said: "The vital bit is the research at the beginning, working out who's going to eat it and who's going to know about it"​.

She said the Lancashire campaign would be targeted at Lancashire itself as well as London and the southeast - two of the more affluent areas of Britain thought to contain more consumers with the will and the means to experiment with new foods.

Territorial cheese as a category still only laid claim to about 10 per cent of Britain's £1.8bn cheese market in 2004, but had grown by 28 per cent in value since 2000, according to the latest data from market research group Mintel​.

Mintel called the rise "an impressive achievement", helped by clearer labelling, more imaginative serving ideas and greater space on supermarket cheese aisles. It predicted growth to continue over the next few years, and said an industry wide initiative was looking to help consumers to increase their cheese knowledge.

The scheme, called 'Cheddar plus one', has latched on to cheddar's huge popularity - it has more than half the UK market - by encouraging shoppers to buy a second cheese every time they shopped for cheddar.

Mintel said manufacturers were also re-drawing market categories, dividing products into "everyday value"​ and "discovery"​ instead of traditional segmentation based on product recipe and place of origin.

Variety and discovery have become increasingly important factors on the British cheese market.

Alongside territorial growth, Mintel said sales of continental cheeses had grown by more than a quarter in Britain in the last five years to a value of £370m. Continental cheese now accounts for a fifth of the UK cheese market.

The trend towards greater variety has helped to add value too. Mintel predicted that by the end of 2005, the total cheese market would have grown 20 per cent in value and 12 per cent in volume.

There appears to be plenty of room left on the market as well, with Britons eating around 30g of cheese each every day, compared to the 50g European average.

Related topics: Markets, Cheese

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