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Too Much of a Good Thing: The US Cheese Glut

How much more cheese can you incorporate into your diet? On average, Americans consume about 36 pounds per year, and it’s time to kick it up a notch.

In 2014, American farmers were enjoying a high global demand for meat and poultry, expanding facilities and increasing production to keep up. As the dollar has risen, though, that global demand has lessened, leaving farms, still big and booming, with excess supply. The surplus of milk that has resulted (an expected 212.4 billion pounds total this year), along with a rise in imports from the European Union, has impacted cheesemakers as well—the United States has amassed a 1.2-billion-pound stockpile of cheese, and retail prices have dropped 4.3 percent from this time last year.

To a consumer, this sounds like a dream come true. Not only do we get to eat more cheese—we kinda have to. Because, on the flip side, cheesemakers are biting their nails about the record-low prices and dwindling storage space, the call for Americans to up their cheese consumption is very real. In response, the internet is brainstorming inventive ways to deal with the proverbial mountain of cheese in America’s freezer, like erecting cheese sculptures, sending it to the moon, and making the world’s largest pizza.

All joking aside, this surplus spells difficulty for dairy farmers if consumers don’t take advantage of the low prices and buy more cheese. “Now that the chickens have come home to roost, prices have gotten pretty bad,” says Iowa cattle farmer Justin Reiter in The Wall Street Journal.

So in honor of America’s cheesy dilemma, don’t hesitate to make some classic macaroni and cheese or its fried counterpart to go with your summertime (cheese)burgers. It’s your patriotic duty!

Feature Photo Credit: “american map made of cheese” by Andrei Marincas | Shutterstock

Caroline Fenn

While Caroline Fenn’s primary pursuit is an M.A. in publishing from Emerson College, she thinks almost as frequently about whether burrata or Brie would be her desert island cheese. She comes to Boston via Connecticut and Rhode Island and also loves writing, coffee shops, and Fountains of Wayne.