It’s that time of year—the time when food trends are anticipated, speculated on, critiqued, and estimated. One trend that won’t slow down anytime soon is certain: consumers are going to eat cheese.
They’re going to eat a lot of cheese, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). In a press release the board noted that the average American consumed 35 pounds of cheese in 2016, a one-pound increase from just two years prior.
And cheese production has increased to meet rising demand. Overall U.S. production totaled 1.03 billion pounds as of October 2016, a 0.5 percent increase over the same period last year, and Wisconsin is a key part of that production, one of the largest cheese producering regions in the country.
2017 is primed to be a big year for cheese, and the WMMB anticipates a variety of different ways in which cheese will be featured in kitchens across the U.S. this year:
1. Year-Round Comfort
The WMMD notes that “comfort food is no longer just for colder months.” Shoppers are seeking hearty, comforting dishes like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and pasta bakes regardless of the season. Pinterest reports consumers now save 54,000 comfort food pins each day, a 140 percent increase from the last year.
2. It’s Always a Good Time for Brunch
All-day breakfast trends of yesteryear have been transformed into all-day brunch. The National Restaurant Association reports that seven out of 10 consumers prefer restaurants that serve all-day breakfast, and menu items like ham and cheese breakfast sandwiches, cheesy egg-based tacos and fried chicken biscuit sandwiches with cheese and sausage gravy are delicious, eye-catching offerings any time of day.
3. Bowls, Bowls, Bowls
Move over burrito bowls; make way ramen. Consumers looking for new options may be enjoying a cheesy breakfast bowl with scrambled eggs or a power bowl with veggies, ancient grains, and Greek yogurt this year.
4. Conscious Consumption
With consumers looking to eat more and more sustainably, expect an increase in the use of dairy byproducts like whey. The byproduct of cheesemaking is a great source of protein to be added to juices, smoothies, and dressings.
5. Spice Goes Global
Hot and spicy cheese varieties like Ghost Pepper Sharp Cheddar and Carolina Reaper Cheddar are continuing to climb the Scoville scale and push sales. In 2017, the WMMD expects globally-inspired spice blends with flavors from Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean to join the mix. Wisconsin cheesemakers are already embracing the trend with new flavors like Sweet Fire Mango Jack and Citrus Ginger BellaVitano®.
What other trends can the deli industry expect to crop up in 2017? Stay tuned to Deli Market News for updates.