Demand for natural cheeses and for convenience continue to reshape the cheese industry, according to a new report.

Positioning of natural cheese as a protein-packed alternative to processed snacks have raised the category’s profile as a snacking option, according to the report, “Cheese: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities,” from market research firm Packaged Facts.

Brands have capitalized on the trend by marketing cheese in more convenient, on-the-go forms, according to the report.   

The evolution of cheese into a packaged snack food option has led to the introduction of different types of cheeses, sometimes with newfangled flavor profiles, according to Packaged Facts.

Natural cheeses can be positioned as wholesome and sustainable (organic, local, grass-fed) yet still indulgent and flavorful, says David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts’ research director.

"Product assortment balance is important," Sprinkle says. "While artisanal and more specialized cheeses are becoming more popular, that doesn't mean that people are dropping standards such as cheddar and mozzarella, which continue to account for the bulk of market growth."