U.S. Dairy Products > Cheese

Why U.S. Cheese

World's Largest Cheese Producer


Global Cheese Production

Almost a quarter of the world's cheese - over 5.5 million metric tons in 2016 - is manufactured in the United States, and production continues to grow. With the largest cow's milk supply in the world, an abundance of land and investments in research and technology, the U.S. cheese industry is capable of unrestrained growth to meet customer demand.

Year-round cow's milk production guarantees product availability at any time of the year. With its state-of-the-art production facilities, the U.S. cheese industry has increased production by more than 1.4 million metric tons over the past decade. Customers have come to rely on this consistent supply of high-quality cheeses.

Worldwide Cheese Exporter


Global Cheese Exporters

Because of the excellent value offered by the U.S. dairy industry, cheese exports have skyrocketed from just over 12 thousand metric tons in 1991, to over 287 thousand metric tons in 2016, making the United States the world's second largest cheese exporter. Since 2006, sales of U.S. cheese to international customers have grown more than 300%.

The U.S. cheese industry is equipped for today's fast-paced business, focused on the future and willing to serve overseas customers as their partner in trade.

Award-winning Cheese Production


Award Winning CheeseU.S. cheese makers are proudly competing alongside their European counterparts in globally recognized cheese competitions and are consistently winning top honors.

They won 247 medals at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest, accounting for nearly 75% of the total medal count.

Innovations in Research and Technology


Innovation and Technology

The U.S. cheese industry is well recognized for its advancements in cheese making research and technology. One example is the invention of IQF, or Individually Quick Frozen, mozzarella which locks in the freshness of the cheese and stops the aging process, providing foodservice and industrial users with a consistent, high-quality product.

Our industry is currently actively exploring innovative techniques to create reduced-sodium cheeses that meet high standards for taste, texture, moisture content and overall food safety. And these are just to name a few examples!

High Quality Standards


High Quality Standards

The United States has a long and enviable history of manufacturing safe cheese and dairy products. This is a responsibility U.S. dairy farmers, dairy processors, as well as processing equipment manufacturers and ingredient suppliers working together with state and federal regulatory agencies have taken very seriously. The U.S. dairy industry is a highly regulated industry with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensuring that U.S. cheeses meet some of the highest sanitation and quality standards in the world.

More Statistics


U.S. Natural Cheese Production by Major Type (metric tons)

   2005 2010 2013 2016
Mozzarella 1,369,419 1,578,247 1,678,061 1,865,976
Cheddar 1,381,629 1,467,367 1,446,619 1,553,426
Other American Cheese 345,697 478,245 557,934 603,949
Other Italian 355,611 424,686 469,849 534,726
Cream Cheese and Neufchatel 324,224 337,864 382,048 412,297
Swiss 136,137 152,614 133,581 141,510
All Others 237,345 298,022 367,349 402,755
Total Natural Cheese 4,152,067 4,739,055 5,035,442 5,514,639

Source: USDA, NASS


U.S. Processed Cheese Production by Major Type (metric tons)

   2005 2010 2013 2016
Processed Cheese 564,478 520,104 544,696 739,719
Processed Cheese Foods & Spreads 447,482 419,603 373,149 297,101
Cold Pack Cheese & Cheese Foods 17,468 17,446 19,689 13,889
Total Processed Cheese 1,029,428 957,153 937,534 1,050,709

Source: USDA, NASS