Mexico, South Korea and Japan were the top destinations for U.S. cheese and cottage cheese exports in the January-July 2022 period.
While shipments to Mexico totaled $356 million in that period (up 32.7% year-over-year), U.S. shipments to South Korea totaled $211 million (+24.3%) and those to Japan totaled $134 million (+14.5%).
For reference: cheese is made with just a few basic ingredients. Only four simple ingredients are needed for natural cheese: milk, salt, a starter culture and an enzyme called rennet.
Currently, about one-third of all milk produced each year in the United States is used to make cheese.
Other important destinations for cheese exports were: Australia (66 million, +25.2%), Canada (53 million, +7.5%) and Panama (49 million, +79.2%), according to Department of Commerce data.
Over the years, cheese makers around the world have taken those ingredients and created thousands of varieties of cheese, each with a unique flavor and texture, according to the National Dairy Promotion and Research Council.
No two cheeses are alike, but there are many standard types such as Cheddar, Swiss, blue and mozzarella, for example.
Foreign sales of U.S. cheese were $1.311 billion from January through July 2022, an increase of 25.4%, year over year.
Among the destinations of these exports, Guatemala ($35 million, +36%), Dominican Republic ($34 million, +43.4%) Chile ($31.5 million, -4.3%) and Saudi Arabia ($31.3 million, +53.8 percent) also stood out.
Globally, the United States ranked as the fifth largest exporter of cheese and cottage cheese in 2021, recording international sales of 1.812 billion dollars, below Germany (5.403 billion), the Netherlands (4.582 billion), Italy (4.236 billion) and France (3.803 billion), according to statistics from the World Trade Organization (WTO).