Healthier eating remains the dominant trend in the Canadian food industry with emphasis on lower fat and lower calorie products with nutritional benefits. Canadian consumers seek foods with health benefits that taste good. Yogurt and specialty cheeses continue to capitalize on these demands, showing strong growth in 2010, while demand for processed cheese and ice cream continues to decline.
Recession caused a slowdown in the growth of the Canadian cheese market, but growth is returning and consumers are splurging a little more on luxuries such as fine cheeses. From 2005 to 2010, average cheese consumption per capita has grown from 12.04 kg to 12.66 kg, with most of the growth in the cheddar and fine cheese categories, and a decline in the cottage and processed cheese categories. This is consistent with consumer trends which favour more flavourful and less processed foods. The industry also tries to cater to immigrant consumers. Paneer cheese, for example, is very popular with the East Indian community and such products sell well in urban Canadian centres with large immigrant populations.
From 2005 to 2010, per capita butter consumption has decreased from 3.15 kg to 2.64 kg, most likely because consumers try to limit their intake of dairy fat and are learning to use various oils in their cooking.
Yogurt consumption has been steadily increasing over the past twenty years. From 2005 to 2010, average yogurt consumption grew by 22%, passing from 6.77 litres to 8.28 litres per capita. Functional and fortified yogurt remains one of the most dynamic dairy segments in Canada due to consumers' growing demand for ingredients such as probiotics. Drinkable yogurt is also becoming increasingly popular among Canadians on the go.1
From 2005 to 2010, ice cream consumption has fallen from from 9.85 litres to 5.50 litres per capita in Canada. While volumes are decreasing, unit prices are increasing as manufacturers are shifting towards more premium items.2
1. Euromonitor. Yoghurt and Sour Milk Drinks in Canada. October 2011, p. 2
2. Euromonitor. Ice Cream in Canada. October 2011, p.1