Cheese Report 2022: Searching for the silver linings

01 September 2022, 07:56 AM
  • The cost of living crisis isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and cheese businesses have to find the chinks in the armour of this towering issue
Cheese Report 2022: Searching for the silver linings

There are many benefits to shopping small and as the trend for consumers to stay local continues, delis and farm shops can benefit from this.

Small town cheese shops and delis are perfectly placed to cut down on transportation costs. Locally sourcing directly from dairies and other nearby producers gives specialist retailers an edge over supermarkets in this crisis. Curd & Cure’s Jessica sees a lot to be positive about amid the doom and gloom of the crisis.

“Over recent years the support for British made cheese in the market has rapidly spiked. In response to this we have been able to partner with more up-and-coming dairies and connect them with our retailers and chefs. Despite the effects of cost of living and costs to business increases, we are confident that this support for British and artisan makers will continue.

“There will, of course, be consumers who choose this as a luxury. But we are confident that by having a wide variety of options and sharing the story of the producer, customers are happy to invest in their local and wider British economy and support these dairies.”

At Country Cheeses in Topham, Essex, they see this crisis as an opportunity to build tighter bonds in their businesses and they remain positive about the future of cheese in the UK.

“We can really focus our relationship building with our strong and very loyal customer foundation, who enjoy and will continue to enjoy the experience of our shops,” says Gary Jungheim at Country Cheeses. Customer service and sustainability play a big part in the future of food businesses for Gary. “Customers can have as much or as little as they wish which has become more important now from a cost perspective, but it also helps when we’re looking into reducing waste.”

So far they’ve been lucky at Country Cheeses and Gary is philosophical about the future. “We haven’t noticed a change in shopping habits with our present customers, and we look forward to welcoming new customers who want to invest in a better product which returns more value in food, and social and economic terms alike. While prices will rise on all food, you get spades more return from artisan and small producers nearer to home.”

For online retailers the benefits are clear. Not only do they bask in the absence of overheads and the minimising of the rising costs of energy, they can also offer a service to those customers who are choosing to stay at home more. As the staycation bubble withers a little because of costs, staying home might be where inroads can be made and online shopping could build back to pandemic levels.

Although ultimately people want a return to their pre-pandemic lives, the cost of living crisis is holding them back from fully embracing this. It does seem, however, that the desire to shop locally is strong, even if that is online shopping. Katie Kitiri from Yumbles online deli sees a lot of support for buying British.

“While we have seen that demand for cheese has slowed down in the last couple of months, we are optimistic that ultimately the consumer trends towards quality over quantity and supporting small British businesses like those on Yumbles will prevail and sustain our fantastic producers in the tough months ahead.”

Svetlana Kukharchuk at The Cheese Lady agrees and believes it’s the desire for good quality food that keeps customers coming back. “I’m sure that rising food prices have made some consumers hesitant to buy products that they would consider a luxury. The cost of living crisis is definitely a big concern for everyone, especially in the food sector. But I’d like to think that good wholesome food will always be in demand.”

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