A royal match: How UK cheese and English sparkling wine pair beautifully with changing consumer tastes - SmartBrief

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A royal match: How UK cheese and English sparkling wine pair beautifully with changing consumer tastes

With a commitment to quality and innovation, UK cheese and wine producers check all the boxes for consumers looking for great quality, ethically produced products.

4 min read

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UK Cheese

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Quality, heritage and taste are all trending factors in the food and beverage landscape, and as consumers increasingly seek out products that stand out for those reasons, food and drink produced in the UK is gaining recognition and seeing increased demand on an international level.

A culture of innovation in cheese

From the world-renowned cheddar and stilton to the award-winning Cornish Kern, the UK produces over 700 varieties of cheese that combine traditional craftsmanship dating back generations with modern techniques. In fact, nearly 154,000 metric tons of UK cheese were exported globally in 2021, according to UK government figures.

With such a wide variety of cheese types, a new wave of cheesemakers is honing in on flavor innovation to appeal to consumers’ changing tastes — the introduction of flavors like chili and truffle contributes to the launch of thousands of new products each year. From charcoal cheddar to nettle-wrapped Yarg, UK cheese producers are responding to the importance of taste for consumers, which still ranks number one as a purchase driver, according to the International Food Information Council’s 2023 Food & Health survey. In fact, taste ranks as one of the top drivers for food and beverage decisions, with nearly nine in ten saying it has an impact on their decision to buy certain foods and beverages, the IFIC survey revealed.

In addition to innovation in flavor and taste, UK cheese producers are serious about sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint, with initiatives ranging from recyclable cheese boards to eco-cheese barns powered by solar panels. The industry’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, evident in a 24% reduction over the last 25 years, aligns with the growing consumer preference for eco-friendly practices. Producers across the region also actively contribute to biodiversity enhancement and reduced pesticide use on their farms, and the Animal Protection Index, which ranks countries around the world for their commitments to improving animal welfare, identified the UK as one of only four countries to receive the highest grade of welfare rating.

According to research from Deloitte, sustainability promotes trust, particularly among younger groups of consumers, and trust drives purchasing behavior. While a brand’s quality and consistency are important to both younger and older generations, “younger consumers’ trust in brands is much more strongly influenced by the brands’ positive intent,” which Deloitte measured using a brand’s humanity and transparency.

It’s wine’s time to sparkle

sparkling wine

To pair with its commitment to flavorful, quality cheese, the UK is one of the fastest expanding wine regions in the world, with 800 commercial vineyards and over 178 wineries. The Southern England region, with its unique climate and soil, has become a focal point for top-tier sparkling wines, many of which have won industry awards, such as the International Wine and Spirits Competition’s “Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year.”

As with its cheese sector, a commitment to flavor innovation also runs through the UK’s wine industry, contributing to a quadrupling of hectarage since 2000. In 2020, 1.4 million new vines were planted and producers generated a harvest of 8.7 million bottles.

The increase in vineyard land corresponds to the growth of the sparkling wine category, which is having a moment in the US. According to IWSR, the number of sparkling wine consumers has grown by 17% or around 10 million people since 2019. Now, roughly one-quarter of all adults drink sparkling wine, with 38% consuming it weekly, compared to 22% in 2019.

With this increase in consumption, consumers are becoming more curious to explore different types of sparkling wine with 45% of drinkers expressing that they want to try new sparkling wines – an increase from 38% in 2019, according to IWSR.

In the UK, the top grape varieties used in English sparkling wines include pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, all of which account for 60% of all the vines planted in the country. A unique growing environment, which includes a cool climate that allows for slower ripening of grapes, creates a distinctive flavor profile ripe with natural freshness and notes of orchard fruit.

From the citrusy notes of award-winning English sparkling wines to the nutty richness of Wyfe of Bath or the tangy, nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg, bringing UK sparkling wines and cheeses into your product assortment can offer a seamless pairing for consumers seeking out flavorful products with a strong story of intent and transparency they can trust.

UK cheese and English sparkling wine are available in the US. For more information about buying and working with UK products in your operation, fill out this form with your contact information.


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