Cheese sales decline trend continues in Australia

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd September 2013

Cheese sales in Australia continued to decline in the 12 months to March 2013, with 89 per cent of Australian grocery buyers reporting they bought cheese, down from 92 per cent in the 12 months to 2009, according to findings from market research organisation Roy Morgan Research.

Australian Food News first reported in May 2013 that there had been a decline in cheese sales in Australia.

Younger shoppers buying less cheese

Recent findings from Roy Morgan Research showed that it is primarily younger shoppers who are turning their backs on cheese: as of March 2013, 85 per cent of grocery buyers aged 25 to 34 bought cheese in an average 12 month period, down from 91 per cent in the year to March 2009. Australians aged under 25 also bought less cheese, with 74 per cent of shoppers in this group buying cheese in the year to March 2013, compared to 82 per cent in 2008.

The proportion of older grocery shoppers (those aged 50 plus) buying cheese in an average year sat at 93 per cent in the year to March 2013, unchanged from five years ago. Australians aged 35 to 49 bought slightly less cheese in the year to March 2013: 92 per cent, down from 94 per cent in 2008.

Over the same time period, Roy Morgan Research said an increasing number of younger Australians said they “avoid dairy foods whenever possible” (14 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds, up from 11 per cent in the year to March 2009), while the 50 plus age group remained stable at 13 per cent.

Dairy losing market share

“It’s interesting to see that a growing number of younger Australians are not only choosing to buy less cheese but turning their backs on dairy products in general,” said Angela Smith, Group Account Manager Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research. “However, the majority (68 per cent) still try to get enough calcium in their diet, which may go some way to explaining why 85 per cent of them continue to purchase cheese despite their age group’s move away from dairy,” she said.

Soft cheeses are big losers

“Also interesting to see is how different kinds of cheese have sold over the last five years,” Ms Smith said. “Block cheese, sliced cheese and soft cheese (for example, Brie and Camembert) have lost the most ground, with only cheese snacks and ricotta or cottage cheese remaining stable,” she said.

Australian Food News notes that the decline in soft cheese consumption coincided with serious food safety concerns involving reports of illness linked to their consumption. At the same time, ricotta and cottage cheese remain popular staples of many weight-control diet regimes.

Cheese sales in Australia are declining