In 2021, cheese and butter absorbed 60.5% of all dairy fat in 2021. Cheese topped the list, according to USDA data, at 42.1%. Meanwhile, butter accounted for 18.3% of all dairy fat coming from U.S. dairy farms in 2021.

As impressive as the 42.1% figure is for cheese, the dairy product absorbed a record 42.8% share of the U.S. butterfat supply in 2018. As recent as the turn of the century in 2000, cheese accounted for 38% of all dairy fats.

It’s important to remember that the U.S. butterfat production also has grown in the ensuing year. Just this past year, 3.9 billion pounds of dairy fat went into cheese vats compared to 2.3 billion pounds in 2000. Of course, that means total fat production across the country has exploded in the past two decades, growing from 6.2 billion pounds to 9.3 billion pounds.

One category that has clearly lost market share is fluid milk. Just this past year, beverage milk accounted for 10.6% of total dairy fat productions. That makes that metric the lowest total over the past 20 years when the drinkable category accounted for 18% in 2000. As one would suspect, total pounds of dairy fat needed to fill containers slipped from 1.1 billion pounds in 2000 to 986 million pounds in 2021.

Rounding out the major dairy products, frozen dairy products accounted for 7% of dairy fats while sour cream took 3.2%

There is some flux in the product category shares for dairy fat.

In 2021, 15.6% of all dairy fat went into a category that USDA dubbed “residual.” In 2018, the residual category accounted for 13.3%. The residual category includes products for which data are not readily available; any inaccuracies in production, utilization estimates, or conversion factors; and plant and shipping issues.

To download the entire dataset, go to the ERS Dairy Data portal and click on “Supply and allocation of milk fat and skim solids by product.”

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2022
December 12, 2022
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