You are what you eat: there’s an expression you’ve probably heard before. What you might not know, though, is that the origin of this little five-word sentence – in a dietary context – can be traced back to the early 19th century*.
Cheese is by no means a new invention. Egyptians, for example, have been making cheese for over 4.000 years. But despite this respectable age, right now is an excellent time for dairy manufacturers to explore the cheese opportunity. Why? For one thing, price pressure is not as heavy on cheese as it is on milk. This allows for healthier margins. Also, the threshold to the white cheese market is low. The shift from milk to white cheese is easy – dairy producers can often use existing equipment and competence. Furthermore, the market volumes are growing faster for cheese than for white milk. Cheese exists on every continent on the planet and the market passed the $100 billion mark in 2019.
Taking a closer look at the market worldwide, the cheese product can be split up into different categories – white cheese, mozzarella & pizza cheese, processed spreadable cheese, yellow cheese etc. White cheese accounts for approximately one third of the total volume. It’s the second biggest cheese category in developed countries where, overall, yellow cheese is the most popular – and also more complex to produce. However, white cheese takes up the biggest chunk (about 50%) of the cheese pie in developing countries. Market drivers also differ. In developed countries consumers tend to favour natural ingredients and innovative flavours, while food safety and hygiene are the first concerns in developing markets. To summarize, white cheese has business potential. And that potential is global.
Did you know that if you’re producing white milk today, and want to improve your margins, moving into white cheese production is an easy next step? Check out this article about what to think about when making the switch or expanding your portfolio.
* In his Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante from 1825, the French lawyer, politician and – more importantly, at least from the perspective of this text – famous gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote:
"Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es."
Which translates to “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”.
So there you have it.
Incidentally, there is a triple cream brie cheese called Brillat-Savarin. It was indeed named as an homage to good old Jean Anthelme.
** Tetra Pak trend research, 2017.