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Specialty Brief

The specialty cheese category is booming! Let's take a minute to recap some of the category's most notable stats:

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• 463 million pounds of Italian hard cheeses sold in the U.S. each year- an estimated 90 million pounds of which is in grated/canister forms
• Total annual US hard Italian cheese market - 3 billion dollars
o 463 million lbs.

• Mozzarella cheese accounts for nearly 80 percent of Italian cheese production in the United States.

• Americans typically consume 10 pounds of cheddar and 10.6 pounds of mozzarella yearly

• 2005-2015, strong growth occurred in mozzarella cheese (up 258 million pounds), other Italian cheese (up 204 million pounds), all other cheese (up 145 million pounds), and other American cheese (up 116 million pounds)


• Among the fastest growing specialty cheeses this year were Hispanic cheese (up 7.5%), feta (up 5.9%), gorgonzola (up 3.5%), followed by asiago and Gouda, (up 3.1% each)


• Per capita cheese consumption in the U.S. is at an all-time high, with nearly 34 lbs. per person, which is an increase of 37% since 2008. A remarkable 98% of American households purchase cheese.


• U.S. retail sales of natural and specialty cheeses were $17.4 billion in 2015 with 97% of Americans buying natural cheese

• Specialty cheese category contains 33 varieties of cheese
o Dominated by the top 10 varieties: Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Feta, Hispanic, Swiss, Brie, Blue and Gouda and other flavored cheeses


• Shoppers who buy specialty cheese spend much more on cheese per month than those who buy non-specialty cheese ($22+ monthly)