U.S. Cheese Industry Booming Thanks to Asian Craving for Pizza and Cheeseburgers

Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Asia has been very good to the American cheese industry, driving up U.S. exports of the product faster than they can gobble up fast food.
The price of wholesale cheddar cheese is up 53% this year because the U.S. shipped more than twice as much to Asia in the first four months of 2011 than it did during the same period last year. Since 2010 was already a record year for cheese exports, this puts the industry on pace to set another record.
All of this is good news for Kraft Foods and Costco Wholesale Corp., the nation’s largest cheese exporters.
From South Korea to China to India, Asian populations are adding American cheesy favorites like pizza and cheeseburgers to their diet.
Chris Galen, senior vice president of communications for CWT, a milk-industry trade group, says that as China and India, the world’s most populous countries, grow their middle class, consumption of Western-style foods is following right along.
Jon Spainhour, a broker and partner at Rice Dairy LLC, told Bloomberg that McDonalds plans to open 200 new restaurants in China next year. “That’s a lot of cheeseburgers,” he said.
All of this export success has not necessarily been good for U.S. cheese fans. In June the average supermarket price of cheddar cheese, $5.44 a pound, was the most expensive in at least 27 years.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
U.S. Dairy Exports - May 2011 (U.S. Dairy Export Council)


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