Gourmet cheese lovers can look forward to more cheese boards, bolder flavors and new blends in 2018.

Those are among the predictions in a new report by the Madison-based Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which reported a 7 percent increase in specialty cheese production in the state in 2017.

The top five ways consumers will enjoy Wisconsin specialty cheeses in 2018, with comments from the board, include:

On a Cheese Board. Sixty-nine percent of millennials report taking a photo or video of their food before eating according to a study by Maru/Matchbox. Creating Instagram-worthy foods like cheese boards made with Wisconsin specialty cheese is a growing trend among millennials. To date there are over 237,000 images of beautifully crafted cheese boards on Instagram.”

With Bold Flavor. Wisconsin cheesemakers are embracing bigger, bolder flavors by developing unique flavored cheeses and specialty products. Smoked cheeses like Red Apple Cheese's Smoked Swiss, herb and vegetable flavored cheese like Henning's Wisconsin Cheese's Onion and Chive Cheddar, and cheeses with spicy flavorings like Nasonville Dairy's Carolina Reaper Cheddar are all fast-growing segments of the cheese category.”

Blended with Other Varieties. “Unique cheese varieties and blends of Wisconsin specialty cheeses are popping up on restaurant menus across the country. Wisconsin swiss, burrata and gouda are three of the fastest-growing cheeses currently being blended and used on pizza, while unique blends like Roth Buttermilk Blue Cheese with Sartori Montamoré, or Marieke Smoked Gouda with Clock Shadow Creamery Ricotta are examples of standout combinations.”

For a Gourmet Snack. Cheese is the fastest growing savory snack between meals, according to the NPD Group. This fact is driving Wisconsin cheese makers to think beyond the mozzarella cheese stick and develop sophisticated snacks made with Wisconsin specialty cheese. New products like Carr Valley Cheese's Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar Cheese Stix® and BelGioioso's Provolone Cheese & Genoa Salami Snacking Rolls are two examples of Wisconsin cheese companies embracing this trend.”

In a Meal Kit. “According to Nielsen, one in four adults has purchased a meal kit in the last year and 70 percent continue to use them after making their first purchase. Blue Apron, who offers a Wisconsin-Style Potato and Cheddar Soup made with Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese, is one of the many meal kit companies incorporating specialty cheese into their recipes.”