Hybrid working is fuelling demand for cheese toasties

According to Kantar data analyzed by the AHDB, dairy products ranging from cheese to yogurt and cream are frequently used by British home cooks when preparing dishes from popular cuisines such as Italian and Indian.

Italian dishes excluding pizza make up 11.5% of all evening dishes according to the data, with cheese used in a third (33.5%) of these occasions.

AHDB’s retail and consumer insight manager Vanessa Adamson notes that the dishes in growth during 2023 were those using cheese as a secondary ingredient – e.g. spaghetti carbonara and bolognese, or pasta bakes (up 25 million occasions year-on-year), with growth evident also in lasagna (up 4 million).

“Italian dishes with cheese are increasingly being chosen for being both filling and tasty whilst also being quick and easy to prepare,” Adamson explained. “This growing trend provides a real opportunity for speciality cheese producers.”

Cheese is also popular during lunch, with the consumption of cheese toasties in particular rising 6.6% year on year during 2023. Kantar data shows that 87% of lunches in Britain are now consumed at home due to the increase of home working, with consumers seeking out tastier alternatives and moving away from traditional ham sandwiches (down 42 million).

Cheese has featured less in meals since the pandemic when its usage reached record levels. The category experienced the steepest price increase of all core categories in the dairy aisle during 2023, with the average cheese price rising 12.4% year-on-year. Yet volumes remained flat at around +0.2%, suggesting that higher prices did not deter shoppers from purchasing.