Australians buying less cheese, brand preferences changing

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 22nd May 2013

Australians are buying less cheese, and there has been a shift in preferences, with supermarket-brand blocks overtaking some old favourites in popularity, according to findings from market research organisation Roy Morgan Research.

According to Roy Morgan Research, in 2012, 48 per cent of Australians aged 14 and over bought blocks of cheese in an average four-week period, down from 52 per cent five years earlier.

Supermarkets-brand cheese blocks have increased their market share over the past five years, with 14 per cent of Australians buying it in 2012, up from 8 per cent in the year to December 2008.

Roy Morgan Research said the proliferation of supermarket brands (often at much lower prices than branded cheese), combined with a gradual reduction of shelf-space reserved for other brands, goes some way towards explaining why previous market-leader Bega fell slightly from 14 per cent five years ago to 13 per cent in 2012.

“Over the last five years there has been a small decline in the amount of Australians purchasing blocks of cheese in any given four-week period,” said Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research. “Meanwhile, the proportion of Aussies purchasing supermarket-branded cheese blocks has grown with their increasing availability and relatively low prcies, and sales of big-name brands such as Bega, Mainland and Coon have declined,” he said.

State preferences

Queenslanders are particularly fond of supermarket-branded cheese blocks, according to Roy Morgan Research, with 20 per cent buying them in an average four-week period in 2012. New South Wales residents, by comparison, were still slightly more likely to buy Bega cheese blocks (15 per cent compared to 14 per cent for supermarket brands).

In Victoria, 13 per cent of shoppers bought supermarket-branded cheese blocks, 11 per cent bought Bega brand, and 8 per cent bought Coon cheese blocks.

Tasmanian shoppers also preferred supermarket-branded blocks, with 14 per cent buying them in an average four-week period in 2012. Mainland cheese blocks were the next most popular, at 12 per cent, with Bega and Coon both coming in at 11 per cent in the State.

In South Australia, supermarket-branded cheese blocks were only slightly more popular than other brands, at 13 per cent. Bega cheese blocks accounted for 12 per cent of purchases, Mainland 11 per cent and Coon 10 per cent.

Western Australians’ preferences differ considerably from other states, according to the research. Mainland cheese accounted for 12 per cent of purchases and Coon for 10 per cent, making them the two most popular cheese block brands bought. Supermarket-branded cheese blocks ranked fifth (7 per cent) among Western Australian cheese buyers.

“It’s interesting to note the clear variations in brand preference across the different regions of Australia,” said Mr Morris. “While Queensland residents have embraced supermarket brands, Western Australians remain loyal to the tradition cheese brands. Marketers of national brands need to stay abreast of changing dynamics within the category as well as regional preference trends,” he said.