The Cheese and Dairy Products Fair organized a panel discussion on Sunday, February 25th, focusing on the 2024 outlook for dairy and cheese retailers. Here's a concise summary.
Although realism was also present, optimism was the prevailing sentiment during this roundtable on the 2024 prospects for dairy and cheese retailers, featuring David Bazergue (General Delegate of the French Cheesemakers Federation), Annick Polese (President of the Union of Cheesemakers of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), Sébastien Vermeulen (President of the Cheesemakers of Hauts-de-France), and Romain le Texier (Prospective Division of the CNIEL).

Current Situation

But as all good forecasts begin with a current situation analysis, David Bazergue kicked off the discussion by presenting key industry figures. Notably, there are now 4,200 sales points (for 4,000 companies, three-quarters of which were created since 2010) across France. 60% of these businesses fall into the category of "traditional stores," 20 to 25% are market stalls, with the remainder being hybrid stores. Ultimately, there is approximately one dairy-cheese shop per 17,000 residents, and 15% of the French population are customers.
Picture of a conference which was about the trends in the cheese field for the years to come.

Trend Review

Throughout the roundtable, the audience could identify several significant trends for 2024:

  • A slower growth in the number of new dairy-cheese shop openings (rate of 200 creations per year versus about 300 in previous years),
  • The rise of hybrid stores offering other products alongside cheese,
  • A fear of inflation, which should compel dairy and cheese retailers to "show that they can offer products within the budget of their customers" (Annick Polese),
  • The increase in online sales, which took over during the Covid period and undoubtedly has a future,
  • The opportunities of AI, "especially for managing ratios and stock" (Sébastien Vermeulen),
  • The concern over the lack of workforce, common to all culinary professions,
  • Generational taste changes, more favorable to the development of raclette and melted cheeses than to that of camembert.

In conclusion, David Bazergue highlighted the four major concerns for dairy and cheese retailers in 2024: inflation (1), decreased activity (2), energy prices (3), and recruitment (4).