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MADISON, WI – Markets in the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East could provide unique growth opportunities for U.S. cheesemakers, according to research just released by the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), a partnership between Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and the Center for Dairy Research (CDR).

“America’s dairy processors are known worldwide for the craftsmanship and passion that shines through in the quality of their products. As U.S. dairy exports return from record highs in 2022, the time is right to seek opportunities to grow our manufacturers’ presence in markets overseas,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director.

The new findings build on a 2021 survey of dairy product consumption patterns in Asia and the Middle East, conducted by DBIA and global market intelligence firm Mintel. The preliminary survey showed continued growth in cheese & dairy markets in recent years, suggesting room for expansion of U.S. dairy sales to the regions.

“Consumers in these regions have their own specific tastes and preferences,” said John Lucey, CDR Director. “Gaining a better understanding of how they currently utilize cheese into their products will help identify new potential market opportunities for our cheesemakers.”

Following this initial research, DBIA staff identified 24 products from the Asian market containing various types of cheeses for further analysis. Selected products, including cream-filled snack products, cheese sticks, freeze-dried products, and items combining cheese and fish, were sampled and analyzed by CDR experts.

Analysts reported a general savory note across the samples, rather than specific, distinct natural cheese flavors. When cheese was incorporated as an ingredient in the products, it almost always appeared as cheese powder or processed cheese. These findings suggest potential export opportunities in the Asian market for U.S. manufacturers’ underutilized cheese solids, such as non-conforming products, cheese trim, and cheese fines.

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The DBIA is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was created in the 2018 federal Farm Bill. Since then, the DBIA has administered over $13 million to 129 Midwestern dairy farms and businesses. The program also offers technical assistance to dairy farmers and processors in its 11-state service area of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.