Germans ditching mild cheese for stronger, heartier offerings, says Mintel

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Germans ditching mild cheese for stronger, heartier offerings, says Mintel

Related tags: Cheese

German consumers are increasingly ditching mild cheese in favor of stronger offerings, including alcohol-flavored products, says Mintel.

According to Mintel data, products carrying claims such as 'spicy', 'hearty', 'strong', 'intense', 'distinct', 'rustic' and 'piquant' accounted for 15% of hard and semi-hard cheese launches in Germany in 2014 - up from 10% in 2012.

Meanwhile, launches of mild cheese have declined - from 24% of new hard cheese products in 2012 to 16% in 2014.

And Mintel expects the German consumer shift towards stronger cheese "to gain further steam."

In the first six months of 2015, 17% of hard and semi-hard cheeses launched in Germany carried these claims. 

"Hearty flavors are on the rise with a move towards stronger cheese and brands promoting the inherent, pronounced flavor profiles of longer matured products,"​ said Julia Buech, food and drink analyst, Mintel.

"Whether cheese is positioned as traditional, healthy or exclusive, brands are increasingly looking to trigger consumers' senses with more intense taste experiences. The cheese sector has seen a heat wave, with the addition of chili and other spices and herbs aimed in particular at attracting younger consumers. Beyond that, brands are now increasingly seen to cater to more grown up, discerning palates."

Wine cheeses

Under this trend, alcohol flavored cheese - known popularly as 'wine cheeses' - have also received renewed attention across Europe.

Austria leads the way in this category, accounting for 35% of 'wine cheese' launches between January 2014 and October 2015.

Following closely is Germany, accounting for 29%, and France with 17%.

"This combination of cheese with wine is widely considered a natural, classic culinary match,"​ said Buech.

"Translating that 'perfect match' into product innovation, the market has seen a growing focus on wine-infused varieties, targeting adventurous, yet grown-up palates with their overtly adult positioning."

Beyond wine, the top alcohol flavors between January 2014 and October 2015 were beer (32%), Calvados (11%), cider (8%), brandy/Armagnac (6%) and whiskey (6%).

This year, the most notable upswing comes from beer, which accounted for 40% of all alcohol flavored cheese launches to October - up from 22% in the first 10 months of 2012.

"The increased launch activity in the beer-flavored cheese sector reflects a wider, growing acceptance of beer's capacity to pair with all kinds of foods, which is expressed, for example, by the emergence of beer sommeliers in recent years,"​ Buech added

Related topics: Markets, Cheese

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