In the last several decades, the U.S. has quietly become the leading cheese exporter on the global market. While that’s an impressive statistic, it’s not one that international cheese consumers would guess if asked.
A survey conducted by the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) has continually shown that international customers rank the U.S. as sixth out of the top eight cheesemaking countries. During the September 15 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream, Angélique Hollister, the senior vice president of Global Cheese Marketing for USDEC, explained some of the efforts the organization is making to help right U.S. cheese’s reputation.
“By now with all the work that’s been done and the great efforts of our suppliers in the market coming along, importers know about us and know that we sell cheese, but when we really dig deeper into the market and you talk to end users, chefs, and consumers, they really don’t have an image or perception of our industry,” she said.
“They do have an image, but it’s not a good one,” Hollister clarified. “When people think of U.S. cheese, they think of the plasticky, orange-looking cheese in squares – processed cheese that goes on the burger – and that’s about it. That’s how they see the U.S.”
With that frame of reference, USDEC has launched initiatives to reach both cultural food influencers like up-and-coming chefs and the general public within the international community. They target culinary professionals, retail specialists, and the entire supply chain.
Additionally, USDEC reaches out to the retail side in an effort to expand the stock-keeping units or SKUs representing U.S. cheese. They also offer promotions and are active through a new social media program in an attempt to better educate global consumers.
“As people learn, they think of us, especially the young chefs. They’ll think about us when they become a decision maker and a buyer,” Hollister said.
All of these efforts are directed at more than just selling cheese. Specifically, the goal of USDEC is to help U.S. cheese attain that positive reputation among global dairy eaters.
“We’ve done great on the commodity side, but now it’s time for us to really claim our rightful place in the mind of people around the world,” Hollister concluded.
To watch the recording of the September 15 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program recording is now also available as an audio-only podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and downloadable from the Hoard’s Dairyman website.
An ongoing series of events
The next broadcast of DairyLivestream will be on Wednesday, October 20 at 11 a.m. CDT. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here for free. Registering once registers you for all future events.