Thursday 1 October 2020. Everywhere, everyone agrees that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years. For many NZ cheesemakers that has meant quickly adapting and finding new markets as farmers’ markets, some specialty retail food stores, cafes and restaurants closed during lockdown.
However there is a silver lining, while New Zealanders hunkered down staying safe they used their free time to explore and support NZ made produce, including New Zealand cheese, which is enjoying record sales.
According to Nielsen Scantrack – a record of supermarket sales for the year to 9 August 2020 – total value for all cheese sales is up by 12.2% for the 12 months. Among these numbers is a strong increase for speciality cheese – up in value by 9.5%. Always a favourite with families, blocks of cheese are up 14.5% in value and grated cheese sales were up a whopping 25.1%.
New Zealand Speciality Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) Chair, Neil Willman welcomed the sales numbers, saying New Zealand cheesemakers were delighted with the support they were receiving from Kiwis who were trying to buy local where they could. “It’s uplifting to see the sales are strong across the board from traditional blocks of Cheddar and Edam, to grated cheese and through to speciality cheeses like flavoured cheese, fresh cheese, soft rind cheese and goats’ cheese.”
He says there are myriad of reasons for Kiwis to buy New Zealand Cheese. “Buying locally made cheese keeps jobs and money in our country. It’s also supporting our regions as many of the cheesemakers and the farms which support them are in rural areas. Buying New Zealand ensures the cheese is fresh and it reduces food miles! What’s more there’s a good chance cheese lovers will get to meet their local cheesemaker and in many cases visit their dairy or cheese factory.”
NEW CHEESELOVERS NZ WEBSITE
To share stories of New Zealand’s cheesemakers, NZSCA is pleased to launch its new website www.cheeseloversnz.co.nz just in time for NZ Cheese Month – it will become an information hub for news on everyone’s favourite local cheese companies.
It features a directory of New Zealand cheesemakers and a link to information about their retail stores as well as offering tips on storing and serving cheese. Additionally – to meet the growing interest in cooking with cheese www.cheeseloversnz.co.nz has recipes for cooking with NZ cheese, including some new twists on old favourites created especially for NZ Cheese month by Kathy Paterson.
Cheeseloversnz.co.nz also includes a record of winners of the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards from its inception in 2004 until the present. The website will be regularly updated.
SEARCHING FOR NZ’S FAVOURITE CHEESE COMPANY
For the second time the NZSCA is working with Barker’s of Geraldine to find Kiwis’ favourite NZ Cheese Company.
Cheese lovers are encouraged to vote for their favourite NZ Cheese Company. The NZ Cheese Company with the most votes at the end of NZ Cheese Month will be named Barker’s NZ Cheese Month Favourite Cheese Company
Voting is on here on the new Cheese Lovers NZ website. Voting will be promoted on CheeseloversNZ Facebook and Instagram as well as Barker’s of Geraldine social media.
Barker’s is the perfect partner for the NZ Cheese Month Favourite Cheese Company as their NZ-made Fruit for Cheese is the perfect addition for NZ cheese platters. Its five delicious fruit pastes pair perfectly with NZ cheese and are at home on every platter. Find all five flavours – including new Black Cherry & Pinot Noir – in supermarkets specialty cheese sections.
NEW ZEALAND’S CHEESE TRENDS
NZSCA asked a couple of people with expert experience selling New Zealand cheese what the hot trends in NZ cheese are. Here are their insights:
Countdown Cheese Category Manager Philip Greenslade said the growth in specialty cheese for cooking continues and has been heightened by Covid with people taking more time to cook and eat at home.
“Kiwis are getting more creative and eating a wider variety of cheeses, including it in their weekly shop. Sales of entertaining cheese continue to be led by Camembert and Brie. However, people are increasingly trying new types of cheese which is reflected with strong growth in Havarti and Gouda. Halloumi in particular is trendy with Feta and Mozzarella also showing strong growth. Additionally, more home cooking has created strong sales of large blocks, shredded and grated cheese.”
C’est Cheese Artisan Cheese & Deli owner and winner of the 2019 Favourite NZ Cheese Shopping Experience, Paul Broughton said they have noticed a definite change in the way their customers choose cheese.
“The biggest change is the demand for locally made product. As people spend more time travelling around their country they’re beginning to appreciate and connect with New Zealand’s vibrant community of artisan cheesemakers. This is resulting in ongoing purchasing of locally made cheeses as well as a heightened understanding of the many different types of cheese made here.
We’re seeing many of our customers trying styles of cheese that they previously might not have considered – they’re more adventurous in their selections. Including cheese in cooking is also on the increase, it’s not uncommon to have people come into our Featherstone, Wairarapa shop clutching a recipe that requires a specialist cheese as a key ingredient. Pleasingly, most if not all such cheeses can invariably be sourced from our own expert NZ cheesemakers.”