Signposts: Look at the exports of the year — Part 2 | Dairy

Think Cheese, Latin America

Paul Roger

The past year has been good for cheese exporters. In the six years to 2021, world cheese trade grew at an average rate of 2.4% per year. But last year, that growth rate jumped to 9% through November.

Global demand for cheese was robust, with increases in all geographies. While some of the gain can be attributed to the rebound in restaurant activity after the pandemic dampened demand in 2020, the numbers point to something stronger than simply making up for lost ground. In particular, cheese demand is driven by a region that is not always considered one of the world’s top cheese buyers: Latin America.

When it comes to cheese import demand, countries like Japan, South Korea, and China typically grab the headlines, and for good reason. Together with Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States, they are among the biggest buyers of cheese in the world.

But one of the drivers of U.S. and global cheese trade in 2021 has come from our southern partners. Year-to-date, cheese exports from the world’s largest suppliers to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean are up 22% year-on-year, according to the latest trade data reports through November. Collectively, they already exceed pre-pandemic 2019 full year volume with a month of volume to add.

United States Dairy Export Council

This does not even count the important intra-regional trade, which has also increased.

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