Do you need a few fun and festive ideas to share to help them create party-perfect platters?
We’re here to help, with a host of easy, cheesy suggestions, as well as all the latest accompaniment trends, to help banish the traditional, end-of-year cheese board blues.
There’s no doubt that cheese is big business in Britain all year round – the UK market is worth well over £3 billion annually. But there’s something about this time of year that elevates cheese to even greater heights.
Most retailers report their biggest cheese sales in the run-up to the festive season, with time-honoured favourites such as Cheddar, blue and Brie taking the top spots.
Of course, traditional cheeses always lend themselves to traditional accompaniments. Fresh grapes and figs are delicious summer classics, but at this time of year aren’t always easy to find (and they’re pricier out of season, too). Dried fruit, such as the delectable selection from Wilton Wholefoods, is an excellent substitute. We find cranberries, figs and apricots go particularly well with the strong favours of Cheddar and blue.
It’s interesting to note that the double jab of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit has created a resurgence in support for British-made cheeses, and in addition to Cheddar and Stilton, we’re seeing renewed interest in varieties such as Cheshire and Wensleydale, Lancashire, Red Leicester and Black Bomber.
These robust cheeses really sing when paired with the sweet tanginess of chutneys and pickles. Take a look at our tempting range from Mrs Darlington’s - the Sweet Apple Chutney is particularly delicious with the almost crunchy texture of a mature Red Leicester. And who can ignore the traditional Ploughman’s Pickle, Picallilli or Sweet Chilli Relish? An added bonus is that all these products go really well with leftover festive meats, such as turkey or gammon, too.
In addition to the more traditional choices, we’re very encouraged to see an increasing demand for lesser-known, small-batch artisanal cheeses. This is really great news for small-scale cheesemakers and regional dairy farmers.
That’s not to say there’s not still a healthy appetite for classic Continental cheeses such as French Comte, Brie de Meaux, gorgonzola Picante, pecorino and Manchego. In fact, many consumers simply couldn’t imagine a cheese board without one or more of these festive favourites. But it’s encouraging to see locally produced cheeses enjoying a well-deserved return to the spotlight.
We’ve also noticed a growing trend to serve European cheeses with good old-fashioned English pickles. Tangy pickled onions, for example, aren’t just for a Ploughman’s lunch - they’re excellent served alongside a creamy brie or salty pecorino.
The Drivers range of delicious pickles is an excellent choice. Why not try the Traditional Farmhouse Pickle or even the gin-infused Cucumber Relish to add a little je ne sais quoi to your French cheese selection?
The festive season is also usually the time when cheeses studded with dried or candied fruit, or spiked with alcohol, truffle or seasonal spices, find their way into customer shopping trolleys. These do tend to be a more niche purchase but are nevertheless a popular, and undoubtedly colourful, addition to many a cheese board.
To balance out the strong flavours in these cheeses, West Country Legends' tempting variety of cheese straws is an excellent choice. With their buttery, cheesy crispness, they offer a welcome texture contrast to softer, creamier types of cheese. (They’re also absolutely delicious eaten straight from the box!)
Biscuits are also a natural partner to all cheeses. Baked by hand in England’s beautiful Peak District, Millers Artisan biscuits are always crisp and crunchy. They’re also great carriers for pate and savoury spreads.
So regardless of how many types of cheese you stock, or how much your customers decide to buy, it’s essential to leave room for a delicious and carefully chosen selection of accompaniments.
Always good as part of a healthy diet throughout the year, nuts take on an added appeal during the festive season, and no self-respecting cheese board should be without them. They’re great served alongside the cheeses, or can be chopped and added to the top of a ripe wheel of camembert, and drizzled with a little honey.
For many, household budgets will be tighter than usual this festive season. But this is exactly why it’s so important to upsell these types of non-cheese components of a traditional cheese board.
Not only does this help to make a humbler display look more impressive, but it’s also a great way to make a smaller amount of cheese go further – always important when you’re feeding a crowd.
Remember your customers will always appreciate your guidance and recommendations, so offer lots of opportunities for them to try before they buy. This is a great way to introduce new varieties they may not have tried before, and a good strategy for converting browsers into buyers.
At Holleys Fine Foods we’ve been curating and delivering a range of premium foods to delight your customers and increase basket spend in stores for over 50 years. We have a deep understanding of the pressures of food retail, and constantly strive to provide the personal, exceptional service we know makes a difference to you.
We’d love to help you help make your customers’ cheese boards a triumph, so let’s chat about your festive season requirements.
Find out more:
Check out our website for our cheese accompaniments options. For more information or help with your order please contact our friendly customer service team on 0117 938 0084.