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AdAdapted Data Shows Movement Across Cheddar, Parmesan, and Mozzarella Categories

AdAdapted Data Shows Movement Across Cheddar, Parmesan, and Mozzarella Categories

Friday, September 30th, 2022

The cheese section of a grocery store is frequented by many consumers, but what have been their shopping behaviors over the past couple of years? I’ve heard this question come up in many conversations with fellow industry members, so I decided to do some digging. With the help of invaluable insights from our friends at AdAdapted, here is what I found.

When we look at cheese as a whole, consumers started to decrease the frequency with which they were adding the category to their shopping lists during July of 2020. This continued to decrease month over month until November of 2021. As we know, the pandemic led to a decline in large social gatherings, so less volumes were being purchased on a regular basis. Three of the top cheeses in the category are Cheddar, Parmesan, and mozzarella, and they each showed their own trends.

When Cheddar makes it into the basket, consumers are also buying things for dishes like burgers, tacos, macaroni and cheese, and soup

The Cheddar category did decrease in terms of basket share from 2020–2021 due to pandemic buying habits, but seemed to level out again around the holidays as a result of more gatherings. From 2021–2022, the category stayed fairly consistent, showing that Cheddar remains a staple for many shoppers—mainly for items like sandwiches, burgers, and tacos. Seasonal spikes throughout the year surround Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and throughout winter, as Cheddar is often used in large family meals such as macaroni and cheese and as a topping for soups.

Parmesan’s basket analysis typically includes items like vegetables, mozzarella, sausage, and items for cream-based pastas

Parmesan cheese has been on the up and up for the past year, increasingly making its way into the basket from 2021–2022. This item is often used for large, easy meals like pasta used for gatherings, which is likely why we are seeing an increase as consumers resume pre-pandemic activities. Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular are popular times for this cheese, often added to cream-based sauces, Italian dishes, and vegetables.

In the mozzarella category, consumers add it to their baskets along with items for Italian dishes with tomato-based sauces

We saw an opposite trend in the mozzarella category, as there has been a decrease during 2022. This is likely due to consumers returning to out-of-home eating occasions and preparing less meals themselves as opposed to their home-cooked habits during the pandemic. While the category sees a spike at Christmas, it tends to drop surrounding Thanksgiving—a holiday when shoppers stick to the same traditional dishes. When mozzarella does make it into the basket, consumers also tend to purchase ingredients for Italian dishes with tomato-based sauces.

Across Cheddar, Parmesan, and mozzarella categories, we see a similar basket analysis in that shoppers are also buying other cheeses like Swiss and Feta. In terms of general basket analysis for the cheese category, data shows that shoppers often buy multiple items for everything from grilling to charcuterie, meaning they use cheese for a variety of dishes.

Unsurprisingly, two of the top formats for cheese are shredded and sliced. Aside from the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, these cheeses show seasonal spikes at summertime holidays like Easter and 4th of July due to their uses in large meals.

Next, we will take a look into the deli and specialty meat categories, so stay tuned.