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12 October 2023

In an interview with Food Magazine, Cinzia Ferrari, Purchasing Manager at Atlante, delved into the intricacies of Atlante’s cheese business and shed light on the new opportunities within this market.

Extensive Experience in Exporting Italian Cheeses

“Atlante boasts extensive experience in the world of Italian cheeses. We started exporting typical Italian cheeses in 2014 and have been supplying British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s for years. We work closely with Italy’s leading dairy producers to offer innovative products made in facilities that consistently adhere to the highest quality standards,” – explains Cinzia Ferrari – “The cheese market has weathered challenging times, grappling with market fluctuations. However, as far as we are concerned, the first half of 2023 witnessed a growth of +3.9% in volume – significantly higher when viewed in terms of value. This was due to the notable surge in average unit prices, which soared by over 17 percentage points (Clal, 2023).

Atlante’s performance in the British market last year was excellent, and it is evident that Italian cheeses are increasingly popular among foreign consumers. To put it into perspective, we ended 2022 with a turnover of €15 million, marking a growth of more than 6% compared to the previous year.

The key drivers behind this growth are Grana Padano (the best-selling Italian cheese globally), mozzarella, gorgonzola, and mascarpone. In general, our PDO products (including lesser-known cheeses), enjoy exceptional success in the British market thanks to their quality, authenticity, and the distinctiveness associated with products tied to their production regions.”

Foreign Cheese Import Specialists

As far as the Italian market is concerned, by the end of May 2023, the cheese market in the Modern and Discount Distribution sectors had surpassed €5 billion, witnessing a substantial increase in value (+18.8% YoY as of 21/05/23). However, there was a slight contraction in volume (-2%). This shift can be attributed to the rise in retail prices, which augmented the category’s overall value while marginally reducing its volume (Nielsen data, YoY as of 21/05/23).

Within the broader cheese market, the Greek cheese category, particularly Feta, continues to experience growth and has reached a value of €78 million, signifying a +23% increase in value compared to the previous year and a +1% uptick in volume (Nielsen data AT 18/06/23).

Atlante has specialised in Greek cheeses for over a decade and brings the authentic flavours of Greece to the market. All products are crafted using locally sourced and premium raw materials, and adhere to traditional production techniques.

Atlante leads the Greek cheese market with a diverse assortment that caters to consumer preferences, registering an impressive +132% growth in value and +94% growth in volume. Our portfolio includes own label products as well as brands like Pavlakis and Kionas.

The Atlante assortment encompasses classic products like Feta PDO in the 200g vacuum-packed format and Feta PDO in the 2x125g twin pack vacuum-packed format designed for single-serving convenience and reduced waste. The offering also includes the practical tray of cubed, ready-to-use Feta preserved in brine to ensure optimal freshness.

In response to consumer needs, Atlante also introduced a lactose-free version for those who opt for a dairy-free diet and a light version for individuals seeking a reduced-fat option without compromising on taste.

A Landmark Entry into the Italian Market: Cathedral City Cheddar

“In 2023, we made a strategic decision to expand our product range in the Italian market by venturing into the cheddar cheese segment,” explains Cinzia Ferrari. “We are exclusive distributors of Cathedral City, a brand owned by Saputo Inc, a prominent player in the dairy industry. Our offering includes four variants with varying degrees of maturation, ranging from 4 to 20 months. These products are deeply rooted in the land where this cheese originated centuries ago: England.

Cathedral City Cheddar hails from the lush pastures of Cornwall and Devon, delivering an entirely authentic product crafted exclusively from English milk. Its sophisticated, full-bodied flavour, which imparts the distinctive rich, creamy taste, owes its existence to a unique aging process honed over the years by the production company.”