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On cheese: Markets, consumers, taste tests, and more

Published by Mark Bodnar

line drawing of a piece of cheese
I understand that our BUS 345 students might be doing primary market research on cheese this term.  If you're in that class1, see below for some initial thoughts on resources to help you understand the cheese market and consumers, especially in Canada.  

Also be sure to check out my earlier blog post -- On taste tests and primary research (redux)  -- for a list of resources and search strategies that may help you as you design taste test methodologies and evaluate the results.

1. Passport

A quick search for cheese Canada should get you to reports such as: 

  • Cheese in Canada (country report)
  • Food Intolerance in Canada
  • Dairy Packaging in Canada
  • Saputo Inc in Packaged Food (Canada) (local company profile)

This approach will also give you Market Size, Company Share, Brand Share, Distribution, and other valuable statistical tables. Be sure to use the options above each table to adjust the time period and other settings to fit your needs.

An alternative (and possibly more effective) search strategy: try the "Browse Tree" link and go to Categories and Topics > Packaged Food > Dairy > Cheese, then add Canada on the Geographies tab.   

2. Statista can provide a shortcut to relevant statistics buried in articles and reports throughout the web (including some sources that aren't freely available).  

Try searches for terms such as cheese or dairy, as well as the names of major brands and types (feta, brie, cheddar...).

Be sure to follow the links to original sources under the Release tab to the left of each of the charts. Sometimes the original sources of the data presented by Statista will have additional numbers and context to make your research easier.

A few examples of the most detailed reports you will find in Statista: 

3. Vividata Target Snapshot

Sadly, the new version of this database has less information on cheese types and consumers than it used to. However, it's still worth checking as it provides quite detailed demographic and psychographic data on the consumers of several major cheese brands (Black Diamond, Armstrong, etc.) as well as the broad category  of “Natural Cheese” (as opposed to processed cheese).

Moreover, you can combine different products to find out, for example, that Black Diamond consumers are less likely to drink wine than Boursin consumers.

The bad news:

  • Vividata does not currently cover specific types of cheeses (feta, cheddar, etc.).  
  • Vividata is complex to use and understand. See these practice questions and look for links to additional guides as you click your way into the database.

4. IBISWorld

IBISWorld reports are on industries, rather than markets, but that perspective can also be very useful. Look, especially, for the following reports: 

  • Cheese Production - OD4274 (US focus)
  • Dairy Product Production in Canada - 31151CA

5. Dairy Farmers of Canada - Canadian Cheese (marketing page aimed at consumers)

6. Canadian Dairy Information Centre (federal government)

7. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

8. Dairy Processors of Canada

9. Cheese Lovers' Society of Canada

  • Lore (links to sites that might help you better understand the news and terms of the cheese world)

10. As I mentioned in my earlier post about taste tests, it's important to search both PsycInfo and Business Source Complete for research articles about your topic as the two databases cover different, though overlapping, groups of journals.

In PsycInfo, start with this rough search to find articles such as...

In Business Source Complete, start with this rough search to find such articles as the following. (Note: I've left that search broad, but you might want to limit it to scholarly journals.)

11. Bonus (random stuff that I come across...)

A handbook for sensory and consumer-driven new product development : innovative technologies for the food and beverage industry

  • Check out Chapter 12 (in section III): "Sensory Properties of Dairy Products" to learn about the chemical processes that cause different cheeses to taste the way they do. Might be a good way to learn some of the type-specific terms?

I hope that's enough to get you started! If you need more, stop by the library to chat with my colleagues.

Good luck with your research! 

-- MarkB
Mark Bodnar
Business & Economics Librarian

1 Of course, even if you aren't in BUS 345, you may find it interesting to use the cheese topic as a way to learn more about some of our more niche marketing databases. Dive in and explore!

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