Specialty cheeses are a vital part of the perimeter's success. What has been trending lately?

Goat cheese has seen tremendous growth in retail over the past few years, totaling a compound annual growth rate of 5% since 2013. Its growing popularity with consumers was the driving force behind the introduction of Roth Chèvre, which the company showcased at IDDBA ’19 in Orlando. It is available nationwide in several different flavors including classic Chèvre as well as Honey, Garlic & Herb, and Wild Blueberry, with retail formats including 8-oz and 4-oz logs, a 4-oz plain crumble cup and 1-oz medallions for grab-and-go applications.

Convenience continues to be top of mind for consumers, and specialty cheese is no exception. They’re looking to simplify meal prep, eliminate food waste, and enjoy their favorite artisan products on-the-go. BelGioioso — based in Green Bay, Wisconsin — this summer, introduced a pair of snacking specialty cheeses — its Fresh Asiago Snack Cheese and its Provolone Snack tray.

The Provolone is sliced into cracker-cut sizes and packaged into 3-oz trays with a resealable film The Asiago Fresco features a soft, creamy texture and mild, sweet flavor. Eave individually wrapped portion has just 80 calories.

Roth’s new Flavor Ups Blue Cheese Crumbles were designed around this trend. Available in 1-oz single serve cups, 3-packs or 9-packs, Flavor Ups were made to fulfill a void in the blue cheese category, offering convenient single-serve packaging for meal prep and recipe creation. The single-serve cups give today’s busy consumer a convenient way to upgrade their meals whether they are dining at home, at their desk, or at grab-and-go lunch areas. The single-serve packaging also reduces food waste because you can enjoy just one ounce of blue cheese at time instead of opening a whole cup.

Imported cheeses are also continuing to grow in popularity with consumers, growing 11% YTD in dollar sales. Gruyere specifically is becoming more and more trendy. Of 72 specialty cheese varieties, Gruyere is in the top seven varieties for dollar growth.

Emmi USA recently debuted its Kaltbach cave-aged gouda, giving the company a complete line of cheeses aged in the 22 million-year-old cave in Switzerland. The Kaltbach line, which also includes Le Gruyere and Le Cremeux, also received a packaging redesign. The company says the new look helps tell the cheese's story and conveys to the consumer its quality.

Somerdale International, headquartered in Somerset, England, is the largest importer of British cheeses into the US. The company showcased its products at IDDBA, including its Baber’s 1833 Cheddar and Cahill’s Original Irish Whiskey cheese.

Three tips to increase specialty cheese sales

Make it understandable

Specialty cheese can be confusing for consumers. Commit to making it approachable and help consumers increase their purchase confidence. Last year, Emmi Roth USA, headquarters in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, designed news labels for its Roth products with consumers in mind, offering flavor profiles and simple suggestions for food and beverage pairings right on the packaging. The company says retailers can take a similar approach with instore signage to help demystify the specialty cheese case.

Make it easy

Stores can maximize convenience by cross-merchandising specialty cheese with wine, crackers, jams or other pairings, which helps consumers buy pairings with confidence and increase total basket price. Shoppers are less likely to buy the cheese and wine together if they have to look for it.

Make it fun

Sampling is crucial to purchase decisions, especially when it comes to higher-priced cheeses. Roth consumer research has found that shoppers need to try specialty cheeses before they buy. It gives them confidence that what they pay will be worth it. Offering samples or training cheesemongers and staff to suggest sampling can encourage purchases.