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Cheese: Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Good for your taste buds, bad for the economy: U.S. has its largest cheese surplus in over 30 years.

USDA statistics show more than half of the surplus is American cheese, with Swiss accounting for 2% and the rest categorized as “other.”

If you love cheese, we have good news for you.

But if you love the economy, we have bad news for you.

As Bloomberg reports, the U.S. is sitting on the largest stockpile of cheese and butter in over 30 years.

That means the U.S. isn’t exporting enough, and Europe is to blame.

This year, the EU increased butter exports by 27 percent and cheese by 13 percent. Combine that with an overabundance of milk, a drop in prices and a weakening euro, and everyone wants the cheese Europe is selling.

And that includes Americans. In fact, the U.S. has become the highest consumer of European dairy products – Americans imported double the amount of European butter and 17 percent more cheese products last year. A strong dollar makes it difficult for customers in Asia and the Middle East to buy American cheese – customers the EU has been able to acquire since the weakening of the euro.

“Where the U.S. has lost out on business, Europe has gained,” said Kevin Bellamy, global dairy market strategist at Rabobank International in the Netherlands.

But what the EU has gained as a whole doesn’t always directly benefit European dairy farmers. A weak euro, surplus of product, and the lowest average raw milk prices since 2010 could spell doom for their livelihoods.

Some may suggest it’s your patriotic duty to eat more cheese. But whatever you do, don’t follow the Russian example of “fromagicide.”

Read More:

  • The US is Sitting on a Mountain of Cheese (Bloomberg)
  • The United States has Stockpiled a Grotesque Surplus of American Cheese (Slate)
  • The US Has a Giant Cheese Surplus and Unfortunately This is a Bad Thing (Consumerist)
  • We Will Bury You: Russia Bulldozes Tons of European Cheese and Other Banned Food (NPR)
Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough has degrees anthropology and journalism. She has worked with the oral history project StoryCorps. A nomad at heart, she recently returned to Louisville, Kentucky, where's she's excited to have her own kitchen and garden again.

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