Hotels, pubs and restaurants need to pay close attention to their cheeseboard offer to make the most of the festive season, according to a survey of consumers' cheese-eating habits carried out by leading dairy supplier http://www.bel-uk.co.uk/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Bel Foodservice UK.
It found that cheeseboards were prominent in consumers' minds at this time of the year, with nearly 60% saying they like to treat themselves to a cheese course when dining out for special occasions such as Christmas.
The research revealed that consumers expected to pay 10% more for a cheese selection than for a dessert, and were willing to spend an average £5.14 a head on cheese.
However, they also demanded good value for paying a premium price, with 80% anticipating a good selection of cheeses and 85% expecting between three to six pieces of cheese on the platter.
Provenance was important to a whopping 85% of respondents, who expected to see French produce on their boards.
Caterers need to consider more than just the cheese, however, as extras were also regarded as an essential part of the package. Some 85% of consumers expect their cheese to come with biscuits, while grapes and chutney were specified by 70% and 50% of respondents respectively.
"The findings of this survey reveal how important cheeseboards are to consumers. They expect to see cheeseboards on menus this Christmas and operators need to ensure they offer consumers a cheese offer that meets their high expectations," said Adéle Bird, channel marketing manager at Bel.
"Offer brands of cheese they recognise such as Port Salut or Boursin and get your customers sharing and enjoying your festive cheese board."