Millennials are a driving force behind new flavors, textures, and products in the cheese industry, as this generation is more willing to spend more on higher-quality food experiences involving specialty and unique cheeses. This trend is one of many examined in What’s in Store 2016, the annual trends research report published by the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA).

Exploration and creativity within the breakfast category for meal solution ideas, and “on the go” takeout options from the deli/cheese center present new opportunities to increase specialty cheese sales and consumer discovery of new cheeses.

“There’s no doubt that breakfast consisting of dairy is a growth trend at retail,” said Jim Dimataris, director of processor relations, California Milk Advisory Board. “We see cheese and other dairy items being used in deli departments and coffee venues to make easy on-the-go options like breakfast sandwiches, muffins and even smoothies, due to their quick preparation, portability, and high protein content.”

Among ways food retailers and producers are connecting with today’s cheese shoppers are: “better-for-you”, single-serve products; more specialty cheese varieties like Gouda, Asiago, and Brie; and the infusion of flavors like ginger, coconut, bacon, sweets (caramel, maple syrup), etc.

Among the attributes of new product introductions in 2015 are protein; full-fat; grass-fed; and flavor infusions.