PARIS (Reuters) – French households feasted on cheese last year as they turned to home cooking and sought gourmet comfort during coronavirus lockdowns that shut down the restaurant business.
The amount of cheese bought by French buyers for home consumption increased by more than 8% in 2020, down from just 2% the year before, according to figures from the agricultural agency 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 unfolded, with households first buying basic items like pasta and flour in bulk and then s ‘settling into home eating habits with additional purchases of products like butter.
In France, mozzarella saw the biggest increase in demand among major cheese categories, rising 21% in volume, followed by a 12% increase for raclette – a winter favorite consumed melted with potatoes and cold cuts.
Along with strong supermarket sales of cooking ingredients, specialty stores like Augustin Denous’ in Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside Paris, reported more trade from locked-in households looking for ‘a culinary treat.
“On our small scale, we’ve helped keep people from going completely gloomy. There was a moment of pleasure at the table with good wine, good bread and good cheese.
“It’s one of those pleasures that are still accessible,” one of Denous’ customers, Nicolas, told the store.
Eating at home, however, can at best only compensate for the loss of demand in France’s huge restaurant and tourism sectors as shutdowns continue until 2021, CNIEL, the body said. of the dairy industry.
Cheese has nevertheless held up better than products such as champagne or fish, which are more dependent on events and catering.
Cheese lovers also see the opportunity to safeguard the renowned range of French artisan cheeses.
“There is really enthusiasm for agriculture and we have to make sure that this is reflected in the arrival of new, younger producers,” said Véronique Richez-Lerouge, president of the French cheese association and founder of an annual cheese day, Saturday.