Suzi's Blog

The Big Cheese

How much cheese do we make? Where is it made?

Thanks to Professor Ito at Kyushu University we have the pretty dramatic data in the graph here. The world now makes about 14,000 units of cheese a year, a unit being 1000 tons, actually metric tons. That’s 14,000 units  X 1000 x 2204.62 pounds per metric ton or 30,865,680,000 pounds of cheese per year. Or 30 billion pounds. Or about 5 pounds per person per year.

The growth, as you can see, has been sharp [no pun intended]. We make four times the cheese we did in 1964. In those days, in America, cheese was spelling “Kraft” and it came in a just few packages, mostly neatly sliced for you to quickly use. A “Cheese Store” was something very ethnic and rare. In New York City, in Boston’s North End, at one of the city markets in Baltimore or Philadelphia. I don’t think there were many cheese stores in Phoenix fifty years ago.

Now, cheese in ubiquitous. When you enter, say, a Whole Foods, first you walk through produce and then it’s the cheese. The layouts are all designed so you cannot escape the landscape of cheeses from around the world, all laid out for you to sample, ponder, and take home.

And speaking of world cheese, who makes it? You’d be surprised:

 


Top Cheese Producing Countries
[1000 metric tons]


United States 4,275 [2006]
Germany 1,927 [2008]
France 1,884 [2008]
Italy 1,149 [2008]
Netherlands 732 [2008]
Poland 594 [2008]
Brazil 495 [2006]
Egypt 462 [2006]
Argentina 425 [2006]
Australia 395 [2006]

 

Yes, the we have met the leading producer and it is us. In the United States, we make as much cheese as the entire world made fifty years ago. And our cheese production is more than scaled up Kraft. Across the nation, artisan cheese makers have created a revolution. Taste something from Cowgirl Creamy in Mendocino County in California, and you’ll understand at first bite.

Some of the countries here will, of course, surprise you. When was the last time you sampled cheese from Brazil or Egypt? They make it, but they don’t export it.

Who does export? France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy lead the pack of exporting countries. The United States? We don’t even make the Top 10 list of exporters. We make it. We eat it. Some countries make it and just export it. Ireland exports 95% of the cheese it makes.

America’s favorite cheese? Mozzarella, that cheese in the top picture. Why? It’s a third of the cheese we eat and the reason is pizza.

Source: for these great facts and figures, thanks to Wikipedia [Topic: Cheese: World Production and Consumption].

 

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