Consumer trends: What we've learned + 5 cheeses for Winter 2021

By Laura Michelon on 05/01/21

Changes in eating habits, what you need to know

Shopping habits have changed in a dramatic way last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Seasonality has gained importance and has had a big impact both online and in-store, with more consumers now keen on eating products that are right for the time of year. With climate change as another key concern, our industry has had to reassess its values, with local, sustainable and seasonal produce moving to the top of the agenda.

Supermarkets tend to sell products all year round, so consumers are not used to seasonality. Covid-19 changed this by disrupting the supply chain, and consumers began to shop from their local businesses. Box delivery schemes and products from farmers markets came into high demand. Hyperlocal and alternative food projects adapted and capitalised on demand from shoppers unable or unwilling to venture to the supermarket for their weekly shop.

Many of us became more adventurous in the kitchen in 2020, trying out ingredients never used before and creating meals using kitchen cupboard essentials. ‘How to bake bread’ was among the Top 10 Google searches; binge watching Netflix and cooking at home were the two major trends during 2020 and cooking with cheese was part of that. “More than half of Brits (54%) have cooked with cheese at least twice a week in lockdown; 11% used it at least four times a week”, Speciality Cheesemakers Association.

These positive statistics are encouraging for British cheese makers who have had to deal with the uncertainty of Brexit and the downturn in demand from restaurants forced to close their doors. With some dairy farmers in the position of having to pour unsold milk down the drain, or cheesemakers at risk of closing their doors, now more than ever is the time to support local. Use it or lose it.

Time to get serious about sustainability

The word ‘sustainability’ has been around for some time in marketing terms, but now the government and consumers themselves are taking it seriously. They are truly concerned about food miles, packaging, and the carbon footprint associated with what they buy and eat.

The new diet mantra is ‘less but better’, and based on the latest Mintel research on Global Food and Drinks Trends, buyers “choose animal products that are better-tasting, more nutritious or have ethical or environmental claims (or a combination of these factors)”.

Cows Northern Ireland

Our cheese and seasonality

Artisanal cheeses, like fruit and vegetables, are a seasonal product. We work with farms and dairies which hand make their cheese on a small-scale with freshly made milk. The grazing has an impact on the flavours of the cheese, because the flora and fauna in the fields and pastures changes with the seasons. Where the cheese is made gives different seasonal variations, typically in the warm months animals are outside and they eat fresh grass, herbs and flowers. By contrast, in the winter months they are fed with dried hay and remain mostly inside.

Some cheeses are only made at specific times of the year due to where they are produced. For example Vacherin Mont d’Or is only available from October to March, as it is made with the winter milk from the same cows that produce the Gruyère in the summer.

Has this inspired you to order some seasonal, local and sustainable produce? Read on for 5 cheeses you should stock this winter….

5 sustainable cheeses for Winter 2021 | Support our British Cheese Makers

The cold winter months are ideal for enjoying hard, well-aged, rich and creamy cheeses like a cheddar or a lovely piece of Stilton. Our team have picked their favourites to showcase the diversity of our brilliant British range.

  1. KENTISH BLUE

    A handmade mould ripened blue cheese with a firm but moist texture, made by the Reynolds family at their Kingcott Dairy in Kent. It is for us a very local cheese, made just 30 minutes away from our HQ.

    Their own cows feed naturally and the grass is all grown on the farm. The farmyard manure is put back into the land to add nutrients and help maintain rich, fertile soils. The health, welfare and comfort of the herd are at the forefront of farming practices with quality always taking priority over quantity.

    Kingcott Diary - Kentish Blue

     

  2. CORNISH KERN

    This is an irresistible creation by Catherine Mead (pictured below) and her team at Lynher Dairy, located in Ponsanooth in mid-Cornwall.

    Originally derived from a Gouda style cheese, it is made with the superbly rich Cornish milk from their own herd of Ayrshires. Cornish Kern is a hard cheese, firm to cut but flaky in the centre. Buttery with caramel notes and a deep savoury aroma, it is matured for 16-18 months in a breathable and attractive black wax coating.

    Catherine Mead Lynher Dairies

     

  3. PITCHFORK

    An extra mature Cheddar, made from organic milk, with a dense and creamy texture, a nutty full-bodied flavour and a long finish.

    Voted 4th best cheese overall in the world, it won three awards at the World Cheese Awards 2019-2020: Super Gold, Best Extra Mature Cheddar, Best British.

    The Trethowan Brothers (see picture below) make organic, unpasteurised cheese in their dairy in North Somerset, England. Championing heritage cheese making and adhering to the principles of the Slow Food movement.

    Pitchfork cheese - Trethowan Brothers

     

  4. TUNWORTH

    Tunworth is the British go-to Camembert style cheese, handmade with pasteurised whole cow’s milk in the lush green hills of Hampshire. It has a rich, fruity flora, with a long lasting sweetness and a nutty finish.

    Hampshire Cheese Co., an award-winning, artisan cheesemaker, has joined the ranks of the best cheeses in the world. From the first ladle of milk from the local farm to the paper wrap and box packaging, every cheese is made by hand, using traditional methods, with expert skill and true passion.

    Tunworth Cheese

     

  5. BATH SOFT

    Made with pasteurised English cow’s milk, this brie-style cheese is soft and yielding with a white bloomy rind. Once cut, it reveals an ivory interior. The flavour is mushroomy and creamy with a hint of lemon.

    Park Farm is just outside Bath next to the river Avon; here his cows graze the lush river meadows to make milk for this delicious cheese.

    The farm is entirely organic and the milk is collected daily from their own herd of 160 Holstein Friesian cows. They don’t use fungicides, pesticides or artificial fertilisers on their land, instead working with manure and organic compost so that the land and the waterways remain uncontaminated.

    Bath soft cheese