French households ate cheese last year as they turned to home cooking and sought gastronomic convenience while coronavirus lockdowns closed restaurant trades. The amount of cheese bought by French buyers for their own consumption rose by more than 8 percent in 2020 compared to just 2 percent in the previous year, according to the agricultural company FranceAgriMer and the market data company Kantar.
This was part of a shift in food consumption in many countries over the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Households initially bought staple foods such as pasta and flour and later settled on eating habits with additional purchases of products such as butter.
In France, mozzarella saw the strongest increase in demand among the major cheese categories with a jump in volume of 21 percent, followed by a 12 percent increase in raclette – a winter favorite that was eaten melted with potatoes and sausages. In addition to the strong sales of ingredients for cheese for cooking in the supermarket, specialty stores like Augustin Denous’ in Boulogne-Billancourt just outside Paris have reported more trading in locked households looking for a culinary delight.
“In our little way, we’ve helped keep people from getting completely gloomy. There was a moment of delight at the dining table with good wine, good bread and good cheese. “
“It’s one of those joys that is still accessible,” said one of Denous’ customers, Nicolas, at the store.
However, eating at home can at best offset the lost demand in France’s huge restaurant and tourism sector, as shutdown measures continue through 2021, said CNIEL, a dairy industry association. Nevertheless, cheese has fared better than products such as champagne or fish, which are more dependent on events and trade with restaurants. Cheese lovers also see an opportunity to protect France’s prestigious range of artisanal cheeses.
“Farmers really love it and we need to make sure this is reflected in the arrival of new, younger producers,” said Veronique Richez-Lerouge, president of the local French cheese association and founder of an annual Saturday Cheese Day.
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