According to MarketsandMarkets, the global cheese market size is estimated to be valued at USD 88.7 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 105.9 billion by 2026, recording a CAGR of 3.6% during the forecast period. Various factors have played a major role in driving the market growth across the globe. The effects of rapid westernization have led to the rising demand for cheese in countries other than Europe and the US. A sharp increase in consumer demand for packaged meals containing cheese and rising demand from the food processing industry is also propelling the cheese market.
Cheese products are mainly derived from dairy-based sources. However, there is an increase in trends of consuming cheese products derived from plant sources. Owing to various health-related issues such as lactose intolerance, allergenic associated with dairy-based products, among other consumers are more inclined towards plant-based food products. Furthermore, an increase in consumer shift towards vegan products are also to drive the growth of plant-based food products such as cheese.
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The growth of the cheese market is brought forth through three major distribution channels- retail, food service, and food manufacturers. The foodservice industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, where most of the fine dining and casual dining restaurants had to shut down amid the lockdowns. However, there has been steady recovery and improvement and the sales are now driven by an increase in the consumption of fast-food items, such as pasta, pizza, and burger, in quick-service restaurants (QSRs).
Convenience food and ready-to-eat products are easy to cook and save preparation time. With the increasing number of working women in developed and developing countries, the demand for products, which are easy and quick to prepare while being tasty, fresh, and nutritious at the same time, continues to grow. Cheese is used in a range of ready meal products for adding characteristic flavor. Owing to the rising inclination of consumers toward cheese-flavored ready meal products, the demand for cheese is expected to grow across the globe.
Drivers: Growing fast-food industry
The global fast-food industry, also known as the Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) industry, is rising at a significant rate. These industry witnesses a high demand for cheese as a key ingredient in its various food products. Thus, the demand for cheese is growing on account of giant fast-food chains, such as Domino’s Pizza, Inc. (US), Pizza Hut of Yum! Brands (US), and Papa John’s International, Inc. (US). Changing lifestyles, such as increasing dependence on ready-made or ready-to-eat meals due to busier schedules and increased demand for packaged foods globally, have increased the demand for fast food products and ultimately fueled the demand for cheese.
Restraints: Rising concern over the adverse health effects of cheese consumption
The rising consumer awareness about the ill-health effects of cheese poses a great restrain to the growth of the global cheese market. Obesity, high cholesterol levels, and heart diseases are the major conditions associated with the consumption of processed cheese. In the US, certain kinds of cheese have resulted in outbreaks of food-borne gastroenteritis, food sensitivities, lactose intolerance, allergies, and high-calorie content. Consumers have now become aware of the association of these diseases with cheese. This factor is posing as a restrain for various cheese manufacturers to overcome and meet the customer demand for healthy food.
Opportunities: Emergence of plant-based cheese alternatives
The market for plant-based cheese is growing at a significant rate; consumers are drifting away from animal sources to plant-based sources. This is attributed to the rising aversion toward meat, the advent of veganism, and concerns over animal cruelty. The demand for clean-label products, concerns about sustainability, and a dire need to avoid allergens are some of the major factors responsible for shifting consumer preferences toward plant-based alternatives.
Challenges: Regulatory influence
The stringent regulatory legislations regarding cheese are projected to be challenging for the growth of the market. The demand for accurate labeling, listing the names of all the ingredients in the product, and specifying the details of the ingredients and their nutrient content is on the rise owing to the rising health concerns. Adhering to these labeling regulations may increase the cost of packaging and labeling, which, in turn, affects the price of the final products. This leads to low acceptance by consumers, which poses a challenge for the market.
Europe is projected to account for the largest market during the forecast period
The European cheese market is the largest in the world, and despite very high per capita consumption levels, market growth has remained attractive and stable. Cheese has provided better export opportunities than any other dairy product, as the willingness to pay for quality European cheese has always been high, and the impact of higher raw-material costs is less problematic. Due to the maturity of the market, the strategic focus of key players is to consolidate current market positions by acquiring add-ons and facilitating new and innovative product development to stay ahead in the industry.
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