The state of Wisconsin produces roughly 2.8 billion pounds of cheese annually. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, a trade group representing cheese producers in the region, believe cheese consumers will seek more innovation from the dairy product.
The group released its 2024 cheese trends piece, predicting purchase decisions in the space, which used data from Innova Market Insights — which tracks purchases and surveys consumers — to highlight growing trends.
Using cheese boards as a way to connect to friends and family will continue to be a staple of gatherings, the group said. The report cited a recent Skift study which found 92% of consumers value experiences over physical gifts, with experiences related to food singled out as one of the most popular ways people enjoy coming together.
The group also believes cooking and consuming cheese products at home is here to stay, which will continue to benefit cheese producers. People choosing to prepare food at home has remained popular since the pandemic began, with 24% of consumers prioritizing spending on premium foods to eat at home, according to Innova data cited in the report.
And as consumers prioritize their health and wellness more prominently, “mindful indulgence” has taken precedence, the group said. Consumers aren’t eschewing foods for pleasure despite their interest in better-for-you foods, the report said, citing Innova data that found half of consumers reported treating themselves to “everyday moments of experience-based happiness.”
Greater interest in environmental consciousness will drive people to purchase more foods locally, according to the report. And another trend driving consumer purchases in the cheese space is a desire for adventurous and unique flavors. The farmer group pointed to the viral social media posts about parmesan espresso martinis this year. To highlight the experimental nature of the cheesemaking space, the report pointed to cheeses crafted at an artisanal shop in Madison, Wisconsin, that implement flavors from the owner’s native Pakistan, like a smoky Tandoori Gouda.
Producers are tailoring their cheese products toward consumer desires as the category continues to grow. U.S. cheese market is projected to be worth $55.9 billion in 2029, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 4.6% through 2029, according to Fortune Business Insights.