Kiwi cheesemakers see sales skyrocket amid COVID-19 lockdown

New Zealand cheesemakers are seeing record supermarket sales.
New Zealand cheesemakers are seeing record supermarket sales. Photo credit: File Image

Kiwi cheesemakers are enjoying record sales following the lockdowns as consumers took the time to source and support New Zealand made cheese. 

After farmers markets, cafes, and restaurants closed during lockdown, New Zealand cheesemakers scrambled to find new ways to sell their product, unsuspecting of the record sales to come.

Cheesemakers experienced record supermarket sales, with the total value of all cheese sold up by 12.2 percent for the last year.

New Zealand Speciality Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) Chair, Niel Willman, says cheesemakers are "delighted" with the numbers and support from fellow Kiwis doing their best to shop local.

"It's uplifting to see the sales are strong across the board from traditional blocks of cheddar and edam, to grated cheese and through to specialty cheeses."

Sales for blocks of cheese are up 14.5 percent in value while grated cheese sales soared by 25.1 percent. 

Specialty cheeses also experienced a boost, with sales up in value by 9.5 percent. Countdown cheese category manager Philip Greenslade says growth for specialty cheeses continues as interest in home cooking develops.

"Kiwis are getting more and more creative and eating a wider variety of cheeses," Greenslade says.

"Sales of entertaining cheese continue to be led by camembert and brie. However, people are increasingly trying new types of cheese which is reflected with strong growth in havarti and gouda."

Greenslade says halloumi is particularly on-trend, with feta and mozzarella also proving popular.

Brie and camembert are the most popular entertaining cheeses.
Brie and camembert are the most popular entertaining cheeses. Photo credit: File Image

Willman says there are a number of benefits to buying New Zealand-made cheese.

"Buying locally made cheese keeps jobs and money in our country. It's also supporting our regions as many of the cheesemakers and the farms which support them are in rural areas," he says.

"Buying New Zealand ensures the cheese is fresh and it reduces food miles." 

C'est Cheese Artisan Cheese and Deli Owner, Paul Broughton, says the biggest change he's noticed since the lockdown is also the high demand for locally made cheese.

"As people spend more time travelling around their country, they're beginning to appreciate and connect with New Zealand's vibrant community of artisan cheesemakers. This is resulting in ongoing purchasing of locally made cheeses."

October is New Zealand Cheese Month, NZSCA has launched a website where Kiwis can check out information on New Zealand cheesemakers and vote for their favourite cheese brand.