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The Big Cheese (Trends & Insights Report)

Food Trends, Ingredient Trends

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What’s the best stand-in when you can’t get a hug, but you’re looking for some sort of comfort? It’s like that saying – money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy cheese, and that’s kind of the same thing, right?

As social distancing continues to be the norm in most parts of the country, many are turning to foods like pizza and burgers for comfort. And we’re not just cheesin’ you – according to Datassential’s wealth of COVID-19 research, one-third of consumers say they’re eating comfort foods more often since the onset of the pandemic (it’s the single most altered part of consumers’ daily eating routines, after cooking or baking more at home).

Consumers are also turning to indulgent foods when they order from restaurants: pizza, burgers and sandwiches, meat entrees, and pasta and noodle dishes are the top options Americans say they want from restaurants right now. As consumers look to these dishes for comfort, we’re highlighting some of Datassential’s recent research that covers a category that goes hand-in-hand (or should we say, goes together like macaroni and cheese) with everything people are craving during the pandemic.


cheese trends 2020


It’s as gouda time as any to dive into cheese & dairy insights.

According to Datassential FLAVOR, 81% of consumers love or like cheese, and in our latest Food & Dairy Keynote report, we reveal that 60% of operators believe adding cheese helps an item sell better.

One-third of consumers surveyed say they eat cheddar multiple times each week and over 90% say it’s an essential part of pizza, making cheese an easy win for operators. When selecting cheese, consumers say having no additives is the most important healthy attribute.

We asked operators which new and innovative dairy products they wanted to see from suppliers. “Smaller packaging of shelf-stable milk products, such as four-ounce or eight-ounce cartons, mainly for the healthcare segment. This would free up refrigeration space and end utilizing powdered milk in an emergency situation,” shared one operator.


cheese trends 2020


Got milk substitutes?

When asked what innovative cheese products consumers would like to see from operators, we heard that consumers want plant-based cheese options. Thankfully, 65% of operators shared that the quality of non-dairy products has vastly improved in recent years.

Now is the perfect opportunity to explore how dairy alternatives like coconut yogurt or almond milk could fit into your menu or product line.


Serving up dairy while social swiss-tancing.

Generally speaking, consumers love cheese and dairy. During the coronavirus pandemic when consumers are seeking comfort foods at a heightened rate, cheese and dairy products will be even more important. Don’t forget to consider plant-based alternatives as well.

For more udderly interesting dairy insights, grab the full keynote report!