The per capita consumption of cheese in South Africa has increased from 1.0 to 1.9 kg per year since 1995. This is great news for local manufacturers but is still much lower than many other cheese producing countries. The French tops the list with 25 kg per year followed by Greece and Germany with 20kg and the Netherlands with 18kg. The English, Australians and New Zealanders are on 9kg and the Japanese just a bit better than South African on 2kg.
Traditionally, South Africans preferred milder cheeses but have been experimenting since 1995 with types which are more flavourful with a resultant growth in sales of these.
The worldwide trend of eating more meals outside the home is also prevalent in South Africa and the result is that more cheese is being consumed through prepared and recipe dishes eaten in this way. The 50% growth of processed cheese, mainly in the food service industry, is a good example of this lifestyle trend.
The popularity of television food programmes and glossy food books, which highlight the use of cheese as a food ingredient, have also moved South Africans to use more cheese in their dishes.
These are excellent ways to make cheese part of the diet and to utilise the nutritional value of cheese. Although South Africa will never reach the American level, where 38% of cheese is consumed through the catering and food-manufacturing sector, it remains a huge growth opportunity.