Research by the group found that online searches for more pungent cheeses such as Roquefort (-33%), Provolone (-33%) and Parmesan (-18%) had all fallen in the past year.
Instead, consumers were on the hunt for their milder cousins, with interest in Swiss cheese up 49%. This was followed by Cheddar (+23%), Gruyere (+22%) and Mozzarella (+22%).
Searches for Cheddar cheese were up in spite of price rises, which have seen a a kilogram of the product costing £3 (GBP) more than it did a year ago – £9.40 per kg from £6.40 per kg in April 2022.
Brie over Camembert?
Ashbury also noted that searches for Camembert-based recipes also dropped by 18%, even though the appetite for its milder cousin Brie remained the same.
Cathy Lane, senior regulatory advisor at Ashbury, ruminated on what was driving the shift in demand.
“Cheddar was weighing in at £9.40 per kilo in April this year compared to £6.40 for the same month in 2022,” said Lane. “Even so, the jump in popularity revealed in our research could be down to cash-strapped households choosing a variety they know the whole family will enjoy, or which can be used across a number of different dishes.”
Lane also noted that while there is no legal requirement for cheeses to display how strong they are, it is a good idea to inform consumers so they know exactly what they are getting.
Wary of regulations
To that end, she warned manufacturers to keep abreast of any changes to regulations when deciding to modify packaging to reflect the experience consumers can expect from their products.
“There are other strict regulations they must adhere to such as fat content and best before dates,” she added. “Some cheeses, like Stilton and Yorkshire Wensleydale, have a protected designation of origin (PDO), so must meet specific criteria to carry the name.
“It’s therefore vital that food producers comply with the rules and display all relevant information to avoid misleading people.”
Meanwhile, last month, Glanbia confirmed the completion of the sale of its shareholdings in Glanbia Cheese to Leprino Foods Company in a deal worth at least €178.9m (£157.27m).
Cheeses growing in popularity
Cheese falling in popularity