U.S. cheese consumption climbed to new heights this past year, with the average American now consuming 39.4 pounds on an annual basis. Given the 1-pound-plus growth in the category over the past year, it’s very likely that the U.S. consumer market could push past the 40-pound metric in 2022.
That would be an impressive achievement if it comes to fruition. Just 20 years ago, U.S. per capita cheese consumption first reached the 30-pound threshold. Ironically, it took about an equal amount of time to move from 20 to 30 pounds, as the average U.S. consumer ate 20 pounds of cheese in 1982.
Natural cheese has been a growing dairy category for some time. Outside of the pandemic-induced shock in 2020, and the Great Recession that caused cheese sales to slide in 2008, cheese consumption has set new sale benchmarks in 19 of the 21 years since 2000.
Since 2010, Mozzarella has been the leading cheese variety. Eleven years ago, it accounted for 10.6 of the 33 pounds consumed by Americans. Both measurements have grown in the ensuing years, with Mozzarella sales pushing past 12.3 pounds in 2021.
Next comes Cheddar. The variety accounted for 11.4 pounds of total personal consumption in 2021. However, the last time it topped the leaderboard and ranked above Mozzarella was 2009. That year, Cheddar cheese sales totaled 10.3 pounds.
Here are the rankings for other cheese varieties:
• American cheese types, other than Cheddar, 4.64 pounds
• Italian cheese types, other than Mozzarella, 3.55 pounds
• Swiss, 1.04 pounds
• Hispanic varieties, 0.97 pounds
• Muenster, 0.53 pounds.