It’s unlikely that pristine cheese boards, gooey raclette, and oozy grilled cheese sandwiches will lose much traction in 2020. But, what new sorts of cheesy trends do we have to look forward to at the beginning of this new decade? We asked 10 cheesemongers to find out.
“Sustainable packaging. I think as purveyors, we don’t tend to think about packaging in the same way as our customers; we’re wrapping in cheese paper or selling pre-packaged items because that’s all built into what we do. [Our customers] are asking if they can bring in beeswax wraps, reusable containers, and if they should be buying cheese paper/cheese bags for at-home use to avoid wrapping in cling film. It’s a neat shift to see as more people choose greener alternatives — a good example for all of us to follow!” —Maarit Tymchyshyn, Lead Monger, The Cheesemongers Fromagerie, Winnipeg, Canada
“With Rogue River Blue winning this year at the World Cheese Awards and the current tariff situation with imported cheeses, I think we are really poised to see a golden age in American artisan cheeses. Consumer knowledge has increased and because of that, ‘American cheese’ doesn’t have the same negative connotation it used to.” —Scout Henderson, Cheese Buyer, Whole Foods, Charleston, SC
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“Big data will impact cheese distribution. The romance and saleability of [the] specialty cheese market has attracted engineers seeking to improve the flow of cheese to market. I expect to see investments in reusable packaging that increase speed of loading, reduces warehouse (handling) costs, and waste.” —Jeffery Mitchell, Owner, Culpeper Cheese Company, Culpepper, VA
“I think we’ll see cheesemakers focusing on sustainability as farms face more and more issues from climate change and cheesemakers advertising the steps they are taking to preserve the environment. This includes converting whey into a soil regenerator like Arethusa Farms, methane recycling like Point Reyes, and carbon sequestering from no-till grazing like Shellburne Farms. 2020 is the year consumers can learn cheese is a process, not just a product!” —Julia Gross, Cheesemonger-at-Large, Chicago, IL
“As cheese and its inherent beauty continues to gain traction on social media, it will be ever-important for education to be the defining factor in cheese influence. Design and aesthetic are, like in any business, core to creating engagement and interest, but do not replace the services of an educated monger.” —Caitlin O’Neill, Head of Retail & Food Service, Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, CA
“I think a couple trends for 2020 are going to be continuing that Insta cheese board wave, Japanese cheeses as they start to be exported to the rest of the world and into American counters, as well as a surge in support for domestic cheeses as the threat of increasing tariffs and potential war increases.” —Michelle Vieira, Columbus, Blogger, Columbus Curd Nerd, Columbus, OH
“I am seeing a rise in fermentation festivals, going back to the roots of food preservations. We host a number of events with local breweries, cideries, distilleries, wineries and showcasing handcrafted pickles, jellies, fruit spreads, breads, etc. Small business foodies are banding together!” —Melodie Picard, Owner of The Oregon Cheese Cave, Phoenix, OR
“In 2019 at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy, Japanese cheeses took 15 awards out of 30 entered, including a No. 10 spot of Best in the World. In 2020, I predict we will see Japan bringing their cheesemakers into the limelight for these extraordinary awards.” —Sheri Allen, Owner of Artisanal Touch Events, Salt Lake City, UT
“An expansion of prepacked snack packs of salami and cheese, nuts, etc.; prepacked cheese board kits to put together at home, and home delivery of same.” —Marge Porter, Sales Rep/Cheese Specialist, Great Ciao, Inc., Minneapolis, MN
“I’ve worked behind a cheese counter for almost eight years and I quickly grew used to hearing customers say ‘just no stinky cheese, please’ until recently. I think 2020 will be the year that robust, washed-rind cheeses will really get to shine. I think the general public is starting to get less freaked by the funk and have become more excited to try them. There are so many amazing washed-rinds right now, especially being made by American artisanal producers, and it’s been really exciting to see them grow in popularity.” —Alyssa Trulson, Head Cheesemonger, Milkfarm, Los Angeles, CA