Mexico, Korea and Japan Are the Largest Export Destinations for U.S. Cheese

Dairy Products April 27, 2018
Author: Anna Sergeeva
Market Analyst

IndexBox has just published a new report "U.S. Cheese Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2025". Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

U.S. Cheese Consumption Accelerated Slightly 

The U.S. cheese market is sizeable, recording strong performance figures. U.S. cheese consumption increased steadily over the last nine years, with a slight acceleration over the last three years, which led the volume of consumption to 5.4 million tonnes in 2016.

In value terms, the cheese market amounted to 40 billion USD in 2016.  This value was calculated in wholesale prices and, accordingly, reflects the market size available for producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). From 2008 to 2016, the U.S. cheese market showed a mixed dynamic: a significant 18% drop in 2009 was followed by a recovery over the next two years and further growth. By 2014, consumption attained its maximum level, but then started to decline in 2015, retainining these figures throughout 2016.

This short-term peak of 2014 was due to a sharp increase in milk prices which soared following an increased global demand for milk powder, particularly, in China. In the following year, the production volume increased, enabling the market to find a new supply-demand balance and thereby stabilizing the prices.

 Cheese Consumption Is Expected to Reach 6.5 Million Tonnes in 2025

Due to the fact that cheese is a well-known food item, there is currently no reason to expect any dramatic shifts in consumption patterns. As exposure to information from retailers and cheese producers about different varieties of cheese increases, demand for this food staple is set to surge. This also applies to the speciality cheese category. The increasing popularity for artisanal cheeses and the fact that more retail space is being devoted to cheese and cheese products will also result in a boost in sales.  

Market performance is expected to expand at an anticipated annual growth rate of +2.0% for the nine-year period from 2016 to 2025, which is then projected to lead the market volume to 6.5 million tonnes by the end of 2025.

U.S. Cheese Production Increased by 23% over the Last Nine Year Period in Physical Terms

In 2016, the U.S. value of shipments in the industry remained consistent, accounting for 39.9 billion USD, which was 4.8 billion USD (11%) less than the maximum level of production observed in 2014. In 2011, U.S. cheese manufacturers reached the pre-recession production level achieved in 2008. 

The trend pattern with regard to output in value terms depends on producer prices for cheese; these prices fluctuate accordingly in line with both the supply and price of milk. Due to the fall in the price of raw milk and its surplus production, cheese prices declined in 2015, leading to a drop in producer revenue figures. 

In physical terms, production increased from 4.5 million tonnes in 2008, to 5.5 million tonnes in 2016, growing with a CAGR of +2.6% from 2007 to 2016. Wisconsin and California together produced approx. 48% of total cheese output in 2016.

Mozzarella Recorded the Largest Output of Italian – Type Cheese; Cheddar – of American-type Cheese

Italian-type cheese  (2.4 million tonnes) assumed a major share of U.S. total cheese production (44%, based on tonnes), followed by American-type cheese (2.2 million tonnes), which was about 39% in 2016. Mozzarella (78%) and Cheddar (72%) earned the largest share of production in terms  of Italian – type cheese and American-type cheese, respectively. Moreover, from 2007 to 2016, Italian-type cheese slightly strenghted its share in total cheese production, while American-type cheese saw its share reduced.

Imports Cannot Be Regarded as a Strong Factor Affecting the Market

The share of imports in consumption did not exceed 4% in value terms and 5% in physical terms, and it is not likely to increase significantly. Due to the low trade intensity, imports should not be regarded as strong factors influencing U.S. market dynamics in the medium term. The well-developed cheese industry and the high competitiveness of U.S. enterprises enables local manufacturers to almost entirely meet domestic demand.

Mexico, Korea and Japan Were the Largest Export Destinations for U.S. Cheese

The U.S. exported 1.2 billion USD of cheese in 2016, but this figure declined over the next two year period. Exports observed an upward trend, but this trend conceded to a 19% decline in 2015, slumping further with a 13% fall in 2016. In physical terms, exports dropped to 290 thousand tonnes, adecrease of 9% against the previous year and 22% less than the peak exports figure recorded in 2014. 

In 2016, the main destinations for U.S. cheese exports were Mexico (31%, based on tonnes), Korea (15%), Japan (10%), Australia (5%) and Canada (5%). All of these countries experienced a positive dynamic from 2007 to 2016. The share exported to Korea (+6 percentage points) and Australia (+3 percentage points) increased, while the share sent to Canada (-5 percentage points) and Mexico (-2 percentage points) illustrated a negative dynamic. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Italy, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Spain Were The leading Suppliers of Cheese to the U.S.

The value of total U.S. cheese imports totaled 1.3 billion USD in 2016, falling for the first time over the past five year period. In physical terms, imports surged by 12% in 2016 to 196 thousand tonnes, with growth figure of 12% from the previous year. 

Italy (18%, based on tonnes), France (12%), New Zealand (9%), the Netherlands (8%) and Spain (5%) were the main suppliers of cheese to the U.S., with a combined share of 52% of total U.S. imports in 2016. Spain (+13.1% per year) and Germany (+7.5% per year) were the fastest growing suppliers from 2007 to 2016. Spain (+4 percentage points), the Netherlands and Germany (+2 percentage points, each) strengthened their position in the U.S. from 2007 to 2016. By contrast, New Zealand saw its share reduced by –6 percentage points.

Do you want to know more about the U.S. cheese market? Get the latest trends and insight from our report. It includes a wide range of statistics on

  • cheese market share
  • cheese prices
  • cheese industry
  • cheese sales
  • cheese import
  • cheese export
  • cheese market forecast
  • cheese price forecast
  • key cheese producers

Source: U.S. Cheese Market. Analysis And Forecast to 2025