Home > Cheeses of the World > A Guide to South African Cheese

A Guide to South African Cheese

By: Diane Bobis - Updated: 6 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
South African Cheese Popular Cheese In

Compared to the well-known cheese making countries of Europe, South Africa is a relative newcomer to the industry. However, the past 10 years have shown the craft of cheese making is developing all over South African countryside -- and attracting a wider cheese-loving audience than ever.

South African Cheese Trends

As the popularity of cheese continues to grow, worldwide sales of cheese increase about 1.8% each year. In South Africa, however, the sale of cheese is rising at a rate of about 3% per annum. The reason? Changing lifestyles.

More consumers in South Africa are dining outside of the home and enjoying cheese as an ingredient in a number of prepared dishes. (It's estimated that 1,000 metric tons of South African Mozzarella is used on pizzas each month.) The popularity of television food programmes and glossy cookbooks has also contributed to cheese becoming a bigger part of the South African diet - and the trendiest food product of the moment.

South African Cheese Production

To keep things in perspective, the per capita consumption of cheese in France is 25 kg per year. In England, Australia, and New Zealand, it's about 9 kg per year. For South Africa, the per capita consumption of cheese per year is only about 1.9 kg (slightly lower than Japan). Though this figure says that South African cheese is still at its beginning stages, it also denotes huge opportunity for growth.

There are currently 12 big, modern cheese factories in South Africa, and they produce about 65% of the country's cheese. The rest is made is small to medium shops. Most cheese makers are located near the coastal areas where water is readily available and the weather conditions are favourable. More than half of the country's cheese is made in the Western Cape, the undisputed South African cheese province.

South African Cheese Varieties

Traditionally, South African consumers prefer milder cheeses. Of the 82,000 metric tons of cheese South Africa produces per year, 31% is Cheddar, and 20% is Gouda. Cream cheese, Feta, and Italian-type cheeses like Mozzarella are also favoured because of their versatility.

Over the past 10 years however, new cheese making methods and knowledge have introduced South African consumers to more flavoursome cheese, particularly French and artisan types. As consumers become more familiar with these new flavour profiles, the demand for specialty cheese continues to boom.

In the past, South African cheese markets only carried a few, fast-selling cheese varieties. Today markets, delis, and farm stalls are stocked with bloomy rind, brine-ripened, blue-veined, and specialty goat's and sheep's milk cheeses comparable to those made in France, Denmark, and Switzerland.

In 2002, the first annual South African Cheese Festival was held. Today it is hailed as the country's premier food festival, and an event where South African cheese makers get to introduce consumers to new and exciting types of local artisan cheeses. Some of these South African varieties include Wookie, Kwaito, and Bokmakiri, a soft goat's milk cheese covered with pepper and garlic.

South African Cheese Exports

The quality and uniqueness of South African cheese has improved so dramatically, many cheese lovers believe it's time to for the country to develop its own programme for registering designation of origin cheeses. Like the Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) of France, such a label would denote genuine South African cheeses that exemplify quality, tradition, and local production methods.

Perhaps that will happen when South Africa becomes a true cheese exporting country. So far, only a limited number of South African cheese manufacturers have exported cheese to the European Union under the EU/SA Free Trade Agreement. As South African cheese manufacturers work to overcome a few exporting hurdles (namely EU certification, exchange rate, and price competitiveness), cheese lovers around the world eagerly await the thrill of experiencing fresh flavours from a new, up-and-coming cheese making territory.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
PLEASE HELP! We are a food and beverages import and export Mozambican company based in Maputo, Mozambique. We would like to find Manufacturers of Cheese in South Africa who can supply us with the following cheeses - Gorgonzolla, Mozzarella for pizza and Gouda.The quantity is as following: 1 - Gorgonzolla - 500Kg/week 2 - Mozzarella - 1000Kg/week 3 - Gouda - 500Kg/week. Please consider this as an EXTREMELY URGENT request. PLEASE HELP!
Lur - 8-Aug-12 @ 6:40 PM
Please Help i need to find artisan Cheese makers in South Africa who can supply me with the following cheeses - Munster, Roquefort, Livarot, Reblochan, Gorgonzolla, The quantity for each is from 20KG each and will be an on going order this is extremely 'URGENT once again please if you can help HELP
- - 23-Nov-11 @ 1:47 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • ronnie
    Re: Casu Marzu: World's Most Dangerous Cheese?
    First time i read this i actually thought that before you eat it,maybe,some how you get the maggots out of the…
    11 March 2017
  • Pixee
    Re: Blue Cheese: Roquefort
    Hi Could you let me know when Roquefort cheese was first available in the UK? Many thanks Donna.
    8 January 2017
  • Cheesefancier
    Re: Limburger: The Worlds's Smelliest Cheese?
    Being fond of Limburger, I enjoyed your article. But I doubt it's the smelliest cheese. There's a Gloucestershire…
    22 October 2016
  • unlucky
    Re: Portuguese Cheese Such as Castelo Branco
    could you please give me an idea of cheeses from the azores and where to buy them, I recently stayed in the azores…
    21 October 2016
  • ILoveCheese
    Re: A Guide to Dutch Cheeses
    Liesie - Your Question:How could I buy some Leiden kaas but not dry from where?They took our sources of our Hollandse bakery and our…
    23 September 2015
  • Liesie
    Re: A Guide to Dutch Cheeses
    how could I buy some Leiden kaas but not dry from where? They took our sources of our Hollandse bakery and our Hollandse store away…
    21 September 2015
  • ILoveCheese
    Re: Danish Cheeses
    @Greg. We have this available online from many stockists here in the UK. Home someone can help you with the sourcing it over in the States.
    23 June 2015
  • Greg
    Re: Danish Cheeses
    I share the concern of people looking for Esrom - the richest flavored cheese I know. Wegman's in the Pentagon City area stopped stocking it several…
    18 June 2015
  • ILoveCheese
    Re: Why Serve Port With Cheese?
    @Flamingo. No we've not heard of this. Can any of our readers help?
    20 May 2015
  • Flamingo
    Re: Why Serve Port With Cheese?
    Does anyone know about or where to look for info on.Flamingo cheeses. I'm told they were originally Dutch cheeses shipped in…
    16 May 2015
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ILoveCheese website. Please read our Disclaimer.