Cheese Market Trends in the US

Explore the latest cheese market trends, including macro trends and clean label in cheese ingredient products

February 12, 2024 – Americans love cheese. 1 of every 15 new product launches contains a cheese ingredient. Not only does cheese taste good, but consumers also look to the cheese market to support their emotional and physical wellbeing. Here are cheese market trends to look out for.

Category Innovation Trends 

Although the number of new product launches with cheese ingredients makes up 6% of total food launches in 2022, down from 7% in 2021, the cheese market remains dynamic, revealing several cheese market trends. The ready meals, snacks, and bakery categories made up over three-quarters of product launches containing cheese ingredients (78%). In ready meals and snacks, launches with cheese slowed down from 2020, while launches in snacks with cheese have been growing since 2018.

Cheddar was used in almost half of product launches with cheese, making it the top cheese ingredient in the three top categories. After cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella were used in nearly one-third and one-fifth of cheese-containing launches, respectively (2017-2023 YTD).

Clean Label in Products Containing Cheese Ingredients 

Besides cheese types, clean label also has a strong influence in consumer choices and cheese market trends. So much so, that nearly 40% of US consumers said they are willing to pay extra for food and beverage with clean label despite inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. Clean label offers consumers the possibility of indulgence without feeling like they are sacrificing their health and diet goals. They are limiting sugar, salt, carbs, and artificial preservatives and additives, among other ingredients. Half of US consumers said to have followed a diet in the past year, with the most popular being intermittent-fasting, eating gluten-free, and ketogenic.

Cheese Market Trends in the US

Top Category Insights 

When analyzing cheese market trends over the past five years, we find that significant percentages of new product launches contain cheese. The top three categories for cheese ingredients are ready meals, snacks, and bakery categories. Cheese ingredients were in 31% of ready meals launches in 2022, slowing down from a high of 34% in 2018. Almost 90% of pizza launches contain dairy cheese and nearly three-quarters of instant and prepared pastas have cheese ingredients. Cheese ingredients have appeared in 13- to 15% of snacks launches since 2018. The snack subcategory of finger food, hors d’oeuvres, and corn-based snacks saw the highest percentage of launches with cheese ingredients at 50% and 34%, respectively.

Bakery launches containing cheese ingredients have a smaller percentage between 5- to 6%, most of which are in the savory biscuits and crackers subcategory.

Macro Trends Impact 

New Sociability and Simple Pleasures, two of Innova’s Macro Consumer Trends, capture how changing lifestyles, attitudes, and behavior, are impacting choices and helping to shape future innovation opportunities for food and beverage and also have an impact on cheese market trends. Cheese ingredients enhance food experiences as consumers seek more pleasurable, premium-yet-affordable in-home meals and snacking.

Simple Pleasures – explains that 60% of consumers like rewarding themselves with everyday moments of happiness they can experience – reveals that cheese ingredients bring a touch of indulgence, premium quality, and a delightful, feel-good factor to any food.

New Sociability – defining how 30% of consumers say social gatherings with family and friends are a top spending priority – shows how ready meals, snacking, and other food categories bring affordable quality nutrition to in-home consumption. Cheese elevates those experiences as it offers affordable richness and flavor.

Top Trends Impact 

Several of Innova’s Top 10 Trends are making the most impact on cheese market trends.

Affordable Nutrition – the trend that describes meeting the demand for high nutritional value at the right price, which requires innovation to maximize efficiency and yields – shows that consumers are concerned with getting their daily nutrition while staying on budget. Cheese ingredients add affordable nutrition in the form of protein to easy homemade-style meals.

Revenge Spending – defined by small pleasures having a heightened effect as luxury spending comes under pressure, offering opportunities to enhance brand perception – describes how indulging with small treats at home have been growing. Cheese ingredients elevate the food experience through enriching and indulging flavor.

Quick Quality – that outlines how culinary creativity blossomed during the pandemic and now needs to come with added convenience to meet busier routines – translates how consumers seek for convenient and quick, yet nutritious meals. Cheese is easily integrated into convenient, quick meals, adding nutrition through protein and flavor.

What’s Next? 

As consumer demand for clean labels keeps expanding, the allure of clean label in foods with cheese ingredients will intensify. The prevalence of 100% real cheese ingredients in product launches will likely persist.

Free from claims, such as gluten-free, GMO-free, no added sugar, and the absence of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, will stay on the forefront. There will be more transparency concerning dairy farming practices, rBST use in cows, and overall cow treatment. Claims will emphasize homemade, authenticity, and local sourcing.

With protein-rich diets on the rise, cheese ingredients will see heightened demand for their protein content. The keto-friendly trend will endure, as cheese adds protein and flavor minus the carbs or added sugar.  As you look out for new cheese market trends, keep an eye on the growing presence of non-dairy cheese to cater to the needs of consumers focused on plant-based protein.


This article is based on our report, “Cheddar to Chevre: Trends in Food Product Launches with Cheese Ingredients in the US.”
If you are interested in receiving this report, feel free to request a demo through our Contact Form.

US Cheese Market Trends

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