According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2022, the average U.S. consumer consumed about 42 pounds of cheese. Taste or flavor is the most likely factor to influence consumers’ purchasing decision when buying cheese or non-dairy cheese, according to Innova Market Insights. The U.S. cheese market is projected to be worth $55.9 billion in 2029, with a CAGR of 4.6%, according to Fortune Business Insights. Grilled Cheese is a comfort food staple and never goes out of style with a variety of new product launches including frozen grilled cheese sandwiches, flavorful cheeses for grilling, and snacks.
CHEESY CONSUMER TRENDS
According to Datassential, 80% of consumers say they love or like grilled cheese sandwiches. Tastewise’s data revealed that social conversations about Grilled Cheese have increased by 3.14% over the past year. The fastest rising consumer need is Comfort. Furthermore, 17.37% of restaurants offer Grilled Cheese on their menus. Pinterest Predicts 2024 called out the Melty Mashups trend, which takes two ooey-gooey, treat-yourself favorites and marries them to make mouth-watering, melty mashups. National Restaurant Association’s 2024 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast identified grilled/cooked cheeses such as Provoleta, Queso Fundido, Raclette, Halloumi, and Juustoleipa as one of the top 10 trends overall.
GRILLED CHEESE PRODUCTS
Frozen grilled cheese sandwiches, flavorful cheeses for grilling, and snacks inspired by the flavor are heating up innovation. A Friendly Bread makes restaurant-quality, heat-and-eat frozen sourdough grilled cheeses. There are three varieties: Challah with Swiss, and Jalapeno with Gruyere, Cinnamon Raisin with Brie and Mozzarella, and Country Sourdough with Extra Sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella. Kraft Heinz has been busy innovating. Designed for the microwave, Lunchables Grilled Cheesies uses an innovative 360Crisp technology for the packaging “that delivers a pan-like crisp in seconds.” This new launch is Kraft Heinz’s first expansion into frozen food and the products are available in two varieties: Original and Pepperoni Pizza. For the first time in a decade, Kraft Singles released three new flavors: Caramelized Onion, Garlic & Herb, and Jalapeño. Kraft Singles and Top Chef finalist Shirley Chung developed Kraft Singles’ Souplings, a Chinese American fusion of tomato soup and grilled cheese dumplings. The Souplings were available at Chung’s restaurant, Ms. Chi Café and on Goodbelly.com for a limited time. Taco Bell originally launched the Grilled Cheese Burrito in 2020 for a limited time. Due to consumer demand, it was brought back three times on a limited basis. In 2023, Taco Bell added it to its permanent menu. For the summer, Alouette debuted Brie for Grilling, which is “creamy and melty, but can hold its round shape when cooked on a grill.”
GRILLED CHEESE AS A SNACK FLAVOR
As a comfort food, this flavor is being translated into snacks. For example, inspired by Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules stars Ariana Madix and Katie Maloney’s soon-to-be-opened sandwich shop, Something About Her, Lay’s created the limited-edition Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Chips flavor. Similarly, Herr’s offers Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Curls. Two notable chili cheese flavor collaborations are Frito-Lay and Jack Link’s and Hormel and Modist Brewing Co. Frito-Lay and Jack Link’s partnered on Jack Link’s Fritos Chili Cheese flavor in Beef Jerky, Meat Sticks, and Cheese Stick & Meat Combos as well as Jack Link’s Flamin’ Hot Cheese Stick & Meat Combos. Hormel collaborated with Modist Brewing Co. to create a limited time Chili Cheese Brew. The lager features barley malt, flaked corn, spices, and cheddar cheese powder.
Expect grilled cheese to remain a popular comfort food and inspire innovation in frozen foods, snacks, flavors, and collaborations.
Be the big cheese. Say cheese to a Trendincite LLC custom-designed trend excursion, a comforting marketing presentation, a cream of the crop blog post, or use your cheddar to hire Amy Marks-McGee as a guest speaker for your next event.