Last year, U.S. milk fat production from domestic milk plus the milk fat of imported products used as ingredients in domestically produced dairy products topped 9.3 billion pounds. Just over 60% of that milkfat was used to produce cheese and butter in 2022, according to numbers recently released by USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Cheese was first on the utilization list, coming in at 42.3% of all fat production. That number matched 2021 levels. Butter accounted for 17.8%, down slightly from the year before.

At the turn of the century, cheese and butter accounted for 54% of all milk fat utilization. The difference is that total milk fat production was much less, totaling a little less than 6.2 billion pounds. We have seen tremendous growth in milk fat production in the two decades since then.

Fluid milk contained 10.2% of the nation’s milk fat production. That is almost half of what it was back in 2000, when fluid milk came in at 18%.

Frozen dairy products represented 7.1% of milk fat production, and sour cream utilized 3.1%. Smaller amounts went into whey products, dry milk products, yogurt, evaporated and condensed milk, and cottage cheese. USDA also includes a residual category, which sat at 16.6% for 2022. This category is a catch-all for data that is not available; any inaccuracies in production, utilization estimates, or conversation factors; and plant and shipping losses.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
December 25, 2023
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