Economics

Cheese Production In The US By State

The top U.S. states in total cheese production.

When most people think of cheese being made in America, the first thing that generally comes to mind is the iconic state of Wisconsin. Due to this schema, many fail to realize that other states produce high volumes of delectable cheeses as well. In fact, during the 2013 calendar year alone, the bustling state of California fell not far behind Wisconsin as it delivered consumers an impressive 2.31 billion pounds of cheese.

Truth be told, cheese is most commonly found within the Western cultural sphere, where it resides as a component of the most basic of “foodstuffs” as well as a major product of agriculture. Overall, with an annual production topping out at an estimated 7 million metric tons, the European continent leads all others in regards to regional cheese production. The North American continent’s very own United States, however, doesn’t fall far behind, with its impressive 5 million metric tons of cheese production per year. That said, the lion’s share pf cheese produced within the United States is sourced from California and Wisconsin.

Many are already familiar with Wisconsin and its designation as “America’s Dairyland”. This is due to the fact that the state for years firmly and consistently stood at the helm as the undisputed leader within the country’s dairy industry. In 2011, the “Dairyland” was able to produce 2.6 billion pounds which accounted for approximately 26% of the country’s cheese production. Wisconsin is able to continuously churn out greater than 2.5 billion pounds of cheese annually, but California has begun to contest Wisconsin’s position, and is now close on its heels. Both members of this ‘cheesy’ duo of states can attribute their ability produce such high volumes of dairy goodness to the fact that they are home to the more milk cows than any other locales in the country.

Ironically, the rate of consumption of the cheeses produced in America is just below the amount that is produced. This translates to each citizen of the United States consuming an estimated average of 15 kilograms per year. The most popular types of cheeses within the country are those best described as “Italian style” cheeses. These are especially characterized by the pizza- and pasta-topping favorites Parmesan, Ricotta, and Mozzarella, while Cheddar “Pasteurized Cheese Products” such as “American Cheese” are more commonplace for use in sandwiches.

The state of New York contributes a respectable chunk of cheese to the American dairy industry as well, coming in third place with an annual production of an estimated 751,280,000 pounds of cheese. At the very bottom of the top list is the state of Vermont, producing a relatively miniscule 127,346,000 pounds of cheese on an annual basis. Nonetheless, Vermont cheese producers are world-renowned for their distinct offerings of sharp cheddars.

It does need to be noted that since 1978 the average compound rate of cheese production has been 3.5% per year. Since the year 1997, the per capita cheese consumption of the country has increased by an average of 5.2 pounds to 32.7 pounds by the year 2007. Over the past decade, this has resulted in an increase of 18%. While the per capita cheese consumption in the United States does continue to growth still, it has done so at a reduced rate since the start of 2000.

Although the rate by which per capita cheese consumption has increased has slowed a bit, the production of cheese within the United States continues to increase decade after decade. A number of cheese products are exported to a variety of countries, with a good share of the increased revenues flowing back into the leading states of Wisconsin and California. There are critics predicting that in the coming years fewer cheeses will be imported from Europe, leading to even further production and consumption of domestically produced cheeses.

Cheese Production In The US By State

RankState In 1,000 pounds
1Wisconsin2,855,681
2California2,312,895
3Idaho871,640
4New York751,280
5New Mexico661,293
6Minnesota661,293
7Pennsylvania426,985
8Iowa267,249
9Ohio196,676
10Vermont127,346

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