Penetration. More than nine out of 10 people eat cheese, with consumption by ABs significantly higher than average.
Value. Over the past five years, volume has increased 15% and value 30% (to £2.5bn this year); similar growth is expected over the next five years.
Price. The average price of cheese increased by more than 12% between 2007 and 2012.
Promotional activity. Many shoppers cite 'low price' and 'on promotion' as purchasing factors. However, while promotions help cheese brands in the short term, they are hitting value growth and margins in the long run.
Demographics. It is predicted that the number of ABs, C2s and over-55s in the UK will increase between now and 2017.
This should be good for the category, because above-average cheese consumption is a characteristic of all three groups.
Types of cheese. Cheddar dominates, accounting for more than half of both value and volume sales. There is also strong growth in recipe cheese (such as feta) and blue cheese.
Brand shares in the UK cheese market, by value, 2011/12*
*moving annual total, 52 weeks to 9 July
Source: Mintel/based on SymphonyIRI Group InfoScan.
Types of cheese bought, July 2012
2,000 internet users aged 16+
The industry's main players
Sam Mitchell, category and strategy director, EU cheese and grocery, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods)
Mitchell began his career as a buyer with UniChem, before joining Kraft as a trade marketing manager.
He recently moved to Zurich to take up his current role, managing Mondelez' cheese and grocery business in the UK and Ireland and leading strategy for cheese and grocery across the EU.
Alastair Jackson, marketing director, Adams Foods
Jackson began his career as a marketing assistant with the Milk Marketing Board and has almost 25 years of experience in the dairy industry. He worked for the North Downs Dairy Company and Irish Dairy Board before taking his current role.
Laura Downey, head of marketing, cheese, Dairy Crest
Downey has held the top cheese marketing role at Dairy Crest, which owns the Cathedral City and Davidstow brands, since 2006. She was previously senior brand manager at Britvic and started her career at Unilever.
Winners and losers in the cheese sector
Cathedral City. The leading cheese brand, value sales have grown by more than 20% (yr to July 2012).
Philadelphia. Kraft has invested in both NPD (chocolate Philadelphia with Cadbury in February) and ad support to keep this brand in the second spot with 5% share. It has promoted expanding its use with lenticular lids showing dishes that can be made with the cheese.
Own-label. Accounts for more than half of all sales and appeals to price-focused shoppers. More than three fifths of consumers think own-label tastes as good as branded cheese.
Seriously Strong. The Lactalis McLelland brand lost almost 17% (yr to July 2012) in value sales when it reduced promotional activity. It has looked to NPD to help boost the brand such as Seriously Strong's Cheese Sauce launched in August.
Dairylea. Sales dipped 4% (year to July 2012) but a relaunch with an 'all natural' claim should help boost sales.