Cheese and wine is a universally acknowledged good match. However, global new product launches are indicating a separation of the long standing pair. Instead, beer is seen more and more as a worthy companion to cheese. The unlikely pair has more in common than at first thought – as artisanal cheese and craft beer share similar back stories related to their heritage, strong provenance cues, hand-crafting process and small scale production.

Beer accounted for 43% of newly launched alcoholic beverages globally featuring the word “cheese” on-pack

It is evident from global product launches that the two – cheese and beer – are becoming a dynamic duo. From January to July 2015, beer accounted for 43% of all alcoholic drinks launched featuring the word “cheese” on-pack, compared to 26% in 2014 and 29% in 2013.

Although wine remains the category where cheese pairing suggestions are more frequent, it is losing its share to beer. From January to July 2015, wine accounted for 49% of the newly launched alcoholic beverages globally featuring the word “cheese” on-pack, compared to 67% in 2014 and 69% in 2013.

Countries leading the way

While cheese pairing suggestions featured on wine are more frequent in countries with a strong wine culture, including France, Germany and South Africa, three countries account for almost half of new beers encouraging cheese pairing: Brazil (21%), the US (14%) and Italy (13%).

cvt-8265404344763821430_1437767926_04-Birra_Moretti

The Brazilian beer brand Baden Baden offers a good example of food pairing suggestions used as a marketing message. On the back label, consumers can look at plates of savoury and sweet food. To celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2014, Baden Baden also ran an advertising campaign which consisted of, among other activities, the launch of the first beer truck in Brazil called Experiência Baden Baden (Baden Baden Experience). In the truck, beer sommeliers invited consumers to try out varieties from the brand and gave tips on food pairing. Additionally, on the brand’s website, users can select which beer or food – including cheeses such as mozzarella and gorgonzola – they want to pair together.

Consumers seek guidance on food pairing

The craft beer ‘revolution’ of recent years has helped expand beer into a much more premium territory. Suggestions for pairing with gourmet food is another avenue to reinforce premium positioning. Pairing recommendations can also help educate consumers on occasions that best unveil craft beer’s sophisticated tastes. Such guidance can also boost consumption during meal times. In Brazil, for example, drinking beer with meals presents one of the lowest occasions for consumption, either out-of-home or at home.

Consumers are actually interested in guidance on food and drink pairing. In Italy for example, 57% of beer buyers would like information on how to match beer with different types of food. Older Millennials, aged 25 to 34, are even more eager to get information on pairing beer and food. Pairing suggestions also appeal for “on-trade” consumption. In the US, nearly half of those who drink alcoholic beverages outside of the home would prefer suggestions for pairing food with alcohol, including beer.

cvt-8265404344763821430_1437767926_05-WhitestoneCheese gets beery

In a similar way that beer brands look to broaden usage occasions with food pairing recommendations, cheese brands can leverage craft beer’s frenzy to engage with Millennial consumerscvt-8265404344763821430_1437767932_06-Victory

In New Zealand, Whitestone Cheese has teamed up with Scotts Brewing to launch a “beer cheese”. The cheese is designed to be enjoyed with a glass of beer. Its hops flavour dissipates over time. In the US, Brewing Victory Company has developed a range of “hand-crafted” spreadable cheese “infused” with Victory’s HopDevil IPA, Victory’s Headwaters Pale Ale or Victory’s Golden Monkey Belgian-style Tripel.

 

Caroline Roux is Research Manager, Food & Drink at Mintel, heading up the global food and drink analyst team based in London and acting as a specialist for the dairy category. She provides robust consumer insights and realistic recommendations to dairy companies, tracking global innovation and consumer trends to assist clients in their growth strategies.

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