For only the second time since 1994, domestic cheese sales in the United States fell when compared to the previous year. In both instances, it took an economic shockwave to stop the sales ascent. Domestic demand fell 0.5% during the Great Recession of 2008. Likewise, purchases were off 0.1% in 2020 as COVID-19 gripped the world.
Outside of those two market anomalies, cheese has been riding a high horse. If this dairy product was a rodeo participant, it would be a perennial winner destined for the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
USDA released its annual per capita consumption data on September 30. Mozzarella, the star of the cheese aisle, fell 0.2% to a 12.3 pounds per person consumption figure. This was largely due to reduced restaurant sales as the pandemic unfolded.
Mozzarella married pizza long ago in an economic term known as a complement. In 1977, Americans consumed just 2.5 pounds of this Italian cheese. As the love affair with pizza unfolded, Mozzarella sales climbed to 8 pounds by 1997.
America’s next favorite cheese, Cheddar, essentially treaded water from 2019 to 2020, as sales moved from 11.16 to 11.20 pounds during that time span.