Dutch Raw Milk Cheese Project (Analysis of Belgian Cheese Market) supported by Slow Food

Executive Summary
This report was commissioned to examine the Belgian market and give recommendations to SlowFood Netherlands on how can they successfully support Dutch producers of raw milk cheese in marketing their products in Belgium. It provides analyses and evaluation of the Belgian market in the context of selling Dutch raw milkcheese.The macro analysis was done to examine the current country situation, important issues concerningraw milk cheese, cultural differences between Dutch and Belgians and other relevant dimensions likethe image of Holland or Slow Food Organization in Belgium.
To get more in depth of the problem a meso analysis was carried out. In this part the reader isconfronted with problems like competitors of Dutch raw milk producers on the Belgian market,export barriers, possible consumer segments or distribution channels. Also cheese shops motivationsfor selling and consumers motivations for buying are examined as well as main publications or socialparticipants researched.To develop a persona one most promising target group was chosen and its motivations for buyingDutch raw milk cheese described.
Results of the macro analysis show that Belgium is strong and developed country with many marketpossibilities. It has problem with ageing population like almost every West European country but itslargest population group 33-50 is actually most promising for buying raw milk cheese. Both Belgiumand Netherlands are members of euro zone what makes trade between those countries even easierwith the same currency and free movement of goods principle.
There are also no serious issues concerning raw milk cheese in Belgium or its doesn’t pose any stricter rules on its exporters than EU.
 The neighborhood of the countries is an additional benefit as it reduces transportation costs. Culturaldifferences between Dutch and Belgians like Belgians being a culture with stronger uncertaintyavoidance or feminine culture can be actually an opportunity . Belgians pay more attention to qualityand taste than price what is important in case of quite expensive product like raw milk cheese. Theonly drawback resulting from the differences is their choosing more local and well-known products.
Dutch cheese unfortunately are not very well-known in Belgium and it’s the result of French culture’s influence in Belgium. French cheeses are being more often promoted in restaurants andsupermarkets (which are often French-owned) than Dutch raw-milk ones. Slow Food in Belgium hasten local chapters and organizes several campaigns to involve people in slow food idea but by thelook of their website and scarcity of information media it can be judged that not many people knowof their activity.The review of the meso dimension revealed that there are no important obstacles for exporting Dutch raw milk cheese to Belgium because its trade within EU which means without barriers.Indicated distribution channels include wholesalers like for example Jan DuPon Kaasimport which isFlemish direct importer of cheeses with its own distribution centre and logistics park.
Beside thatDutch cheese can be sold to supermarkets like Colruyt or Carrefour which are popular chains inBelgium, specialized cheese shops and delicatessen, bio shops, markets and online.Main motivations for cheese shops to sell Dutch Raw Milk cheese revealed to be its high quality andunique taste what Belgian consumers value so much. This love to high quality and taste of foodresults in general positive attitude towards raw milk cheese. Research showed that many Belgians especially families, value it also for its health properties. Slight differences in consumption betweenregions occurred- Flemings consume more raw milk cheese than other Belgians. In the Walloonregion raw milk cheese consumption meets the countries average but with this region being thepoorest, the hygiene risks are a bigger concern.Based on those consumption habits and deeper analysis of Belgian society consumer segments aredescribed according to region, age, lifestyle and other criteria.Unfortunately there appeared to be quite strong competition from local farmers and cheese makersthat are so many in Belgium, especially in Wallonia where tradition of making cheese is highlydeveloped.
Main publications related to consumers and distribution channels seem to be just door to doormagazines or reports published by consumer panels like Crioc or Nielsen.There are several big associations regarding the raw milk cheese market such as the BCZ-CBL and theUDCF-UZKK- which represents a large group of small scale producers protecting the artisanal cheesefrom extinction. Media such as Linkedin is often used to communicate between independentproducers. The places of the meetings are also special events organized by European FarmhouseCheese makers or trade fairs like Vitasana or Travola.
Result of specifying consumer segments is in the last part identification of the target group and itsreasons for buying Dutch raw milk cheese. Based on this target group is also persona characterized.The report exhibits that despite difficulties indicated like strong competition from local producers orcultural differences, Belgian market can be promising for Dutch raw milk producers.Those opportunities can be exploited by targeting the right consumer group which as suggested areFlanders inhabitants age 30-50, middle class or upper middle class, educated, consciuos about healthand diet and making well-considered purchasing choices. It can be achieved also by choosing theright distribution channels as mentioned earlier and more brodaly decribed in the report. Best way of popularization Dutch raw milk cheese and this way increasing sales in country like Belgium is usingsocial media and participating in trade fairs or event organized by cheese associations.
By:
Humeira Amini – S1039234
Tessa Baas – S1037305
Ewelina Kozłowska – S1052006
Rick van Duursen – S1030511
Paul Connolly – S1055220
Yannick Mulamba – S1056091

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