The great British after-dinner cheeseboard is in danger of becoming a thing of the past, according to a new study from British savoury snackmaker Jacob’s.
The survey reveals that a massive two-thirds of the UK (65%) prepare a cheeseboard just once a year or less, and one in ten (9%) rarely keep more than one type of cheese in the fridge at a time.
In response to the findings, Jacob’s is celebrating the 130th anniversary of its Jacob’s Cream Cracker by creating an 40 metre cheeseboard, which it describes as the longest ever. The aim is ‘to inspire a new generation with the simple joys of perfectly paired cheese and crackers’. Stretching the length of Tower Bridge Walkway in London, the Jacob’s Longest Ever Cheeseboard event also features a grand feast offering a range of specially developed cheese and cracker pairings created by food and drink expert Matt Day.
Jacob’s research lifts the lid on the nation’s cheese knowledge too. The report found that the average Brit could name just four of the 700-plus varieties of British cheese on the market, and reveals that one in six UK consumers haven’t heard of Stilton and a quarter are not familiar with Wensleydale, despite its popularity with TV’s ‘Wallace and Gromit’. The top 10 most recognised British cheeses were: Cheddar, Stilton, Red Leicester, Wensleydale, Double Gloucester, Cheshire, Caerphilly, Lancashire, Stinking Bishop and Cornish Brie.
But the study found a resurgence in appetite for the cheeseboard among those living in the south and the east, with southerners three and half times more likely than those in the north to eat a cheeseboard every week, and those in the east 26% more likely to than those in the west. What’s more, Londoners are four times as likely to know about obscure British varieties such as Ticklemore, and those from the south-west are 49% more likely than average to spot a Stinking Bishop with ease.
The results also show a shift in the tastes of British consumers, with those aged 18 to 24 increasingly opting for fruit (+180%), charcuterie meats (+100%) and nuts (+80%) to accompany their cheeses. Meanwhile those aged 45+ stick with the traditional tastes of grapes (+23%), pickles (+19%) and butter (+13%). However for all age brackets, the cracker came out top, with 54% naming it the perfect pairing for cheese.
Paul Courtney, head baker at United Biscuits, commented: “You don’t reach 130 years of baking Jacob’s Cream Crackers without learning a thing or two about cheeseboards, and we know there’s great pleasure in the timeless combination of cheese and crackers – so it’s a shame to see that enthusiasm may be dwindling. We’re now on a mission to bring joy back into the cheeseboard, to inspire people to try different things as they rediscover this varied and satisfying course, and add a whole new level of excitement to the cheeseboard by showcasing the endless possible pairings of crackers and cheese.”