Specialty cheese has faced a kind of one-, two-, three-punch during the pandemic.
On the retail side, demand was depressed because an awful lot of specialty cheese is used for home entertaining, such as making a cheese platter to present when guests are coming over, or putting out individual cheeses for people to nibble on during conversation or as a prelude to a dinner. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people limited who was coming over to the house and, certainly, limited social events.
Of course, many restaurants were simply closed. Those that did takeout often weren’t focused on specialty products and, even if they had their full menu available, things such as specialty cheese plates are often communal dishes. Six singles in Manhattan apartments might well go out and share a nice cheese plate, but all six, even if ordering delivery, are unlikely to order one at all.
Travel pretty much requires, and certainly creates, the opportunity for dining out. Whether they are business dinners in big cities or family vacations in beach resorts and ski lodges, there are lots of opportunities for some really nice cheese offerings. But travel was brought to a halt.
But whether at retail or restaurants at home, or during travel for business and vacation around the country and around the world, specialty cheese simply is one of those products often enjoyed in communal settings, and pandemics are just not a friend to communal settings.
But… there is more than a light at the end of the tunnel. Millions of people are getting vaccinated every week, and the numbers for illness, hospitalizations and, especially, deaths are falling fast. Laws requiring masking are being relaxed, and people are starting to feel free again.
Of course, it is not a simple matter. Some people remain afraid—there are still restrictions on indoor activities in some places, and travel is increasing. But much travel, for example international travel, is still blocked.
Still, one can feel the energy. People want to get out. People want to socialize. People want to enjoy life. And, for many, a year of living without vacations, without dining out, without needing new clothes… has left many of us with resources to enjoy life.
So get ready for the Big Bang! It is not a theory this time. It is people ready, willing and able to move ahead with their lives. To meet, to date, to travel, to enjoy. Specialty cheese, gathered from every part of the world, will join with fine wine, great beer and even some Champagne—as a path to seep up all that is good and exciting in life while we all move ahead to enjoy family, friends and romantic relationships, with an array of global cheeses part of the celebration.