Waikato cheesemaker Albert Alferink is no stranger to specialty cheese awards — but now his skills have put him on the global stage.
Data released to coincide with October’s New Zealand Cheese Month shows Kiwis are becoming more adventurous with their cheese taste.
The NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) says according to data from market research company, IRI, specialty cheese is driving growth across the total cheese market; with 6.9% growth in volume for year ending July 15, 2018 over the previous 12 months. Speciality cheese sales represent 17.6% of total cheese value sales – which represents share gains of 2.1% since July 2015.
New Zealand’s top 10 specialty cheeses by volume of sales are plain Feta, Camembert, Brie, Parmesan, Blue Vein, Haloumi, Blue Cheese (all blue cheese not named Blue Vein), Flavoured Feta, Gouda and Havarti.
The fastest growing NZ-made specialty cheeses are Haloumi, Cheddar, Mozzarella and Gruyere.
Each October the NZSCA celebrates the hard work and dedication of the country’s cheesemakers. Association chair Neil Willman says many artisan cheesemakers milk animals most of the year to make delicious cheese for us to enjoy.
He says it’s wonderful to see the growth in sales of NZ-made cheese – but this October he’s encouraging Kiwis to put even more NZ-made cheese on their plates.
Willman says Kiwis lag behind other similar cheese producing countries when it comes to per capita consumption.
New Zealanders consume an average of only 8.2kg/person annually, compared with Australians who enjoy 14.7kg/person - both of which lag far behind the global leader, Denmark, with an average consumption of 28.1kg/person in 2016.
To encourage Kiwis to eat more cheese in October, the Cheese Lovers NZ Instagram page will be giving away gourmet NZ cheese hampers to people who share images of NZ cheese using the #nzcheeselovers hashtag. There will also be competitions on the Cheese Lovers NZ Facebook page.
Willman says cheese lovers are encouraged to take advantage of tastings and events at local supermarkets. Events will be listed on the NZSCA website.