British cheese tastes broaden

British cheese tastes are broadening out latest retail sales data can reveal.

While British Cheddar and Stilton still hold their own as shopping basket staples nowadays shoppers are also picking up what not so long ago were considered fancy continental cheeses.

And it’s varieties such as Manchego, from Spain, Comté, from France and Taleggio, from Italy, that are soaring, making continental cheese the fastest growing area of the UK cheese market.

In the last year, sales of continental cheeses have grown by eight per cent (Kantar data July 2013) which for a market worth £375 million is strong growth.

At Tesco, the UK’s biggest seller of cheese, the trend is even more pronounced with demand up by 13 per cent. The most popular continental cheeses in the last year have been:

Chaource – sales up 350 per cent
Comté – sales up 180 per cent
Langres – sales up 160 per cent
Cave Aged Emmental – sales up 120 per cent
Ossau-Iraty – sales up 60 per cent
Reblochon – sales up 50 per cent

Tesco cheese category buying manager David Chamberlain said: “During recent harder times people have entertained more at home and that has led to shoppers trying new cheeses as well as picking up their British favourites like Cheddar and Stilton.

“While the likes of Brie, Camembert, Emmental, Gruyère and Gouda are all established top sellers and have graced the cheeseboards of UK cheese connoisseurs for many years, it’s lesser known varieties such as Chaource, Comté and Reblochon which are starting to win new fans in the UK.”

Continental cheeses that have seen strong growth in the last year at Tesco include:

Chaource – a creamy French soft cheese made with cow’s milk cheese and similar to Camembert though with a hint of mushroom.
Comté – a hard French cheese made from cow’s milk with a nutty, sweet flavour not dissimilar to Gruyère.
Langres – a strong French soft cheese made from cow’s milk that is similar to Epoisses. It has a distinctive orange brown rind.
Reblochon – a soft unpasteurised cheese made in the French Alps from cow’s milk with a nutty taste and Brie like texture.
Ossau-Iraty – a smooth French cheese made from sheep’s milk that is slightly nutty with complex flavours

Cheese expert Nigel White, secretary of the British Cheese Board said: “The UK economy is improving and some households are becoming more adventurous – total cheese consumption appears to be rising and imports have been assisted by a weakening of the Euro.”