More than 1.4 billion pounds of cheese are reportedly stuck in warehouses — and millennials' refusal to eat American cheese is part of the problem

Hollis JohnsonAmerica has too much cheese — especially processed American cheese.
  • Cheese stockpiles have hit record highs, with 1.4 billion pounds of American-made cheese in warehouses across the United States.
  • International cheese sales are down after Mexico and China set tariffs on American-made cheese earlier this year.
  • Americans increasingly prefer fancier, foreign cheeses. Millennials are ditching American cheese in favour of more adventurous options.

The United States is producing more cheese than people can eat.

The amount of stockpiled cheese in the US has reached its highest levels in the past century, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. According to The Journal, about 1.4 billion pounds of American, cheddar, and other types of cheese are stocked in warehouses across the US.

A few factors are feeding into the cheese glut.

First, other countries are increasingly turning away from American-made cheeses, sparking concerns in the dairy industry. Mexico and China set tariffs on American-made cheese earlier this year, in response to US tariffs on goods such as steel and aluminium.

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Second, Americans are increasingly ditching iconic American cheese in favour of international flavours. Mozzarella sales have topped those of cheddar since 2010. And, processed American cheese is even less popular.

In October, Bloomberg reported that US sales of processed cheese were set to decline 1.6% in 2018, citing Euromonitor data. That would mark the fourth straight year of declining sales. Chains like Wendy’s, Panera, and McDonald’s are cutting American cheese from the menu in favour of more international, “fancier” cheeses.

Bloomberg pointed to shifting millennial preferences as a major factor in declining sales. While American cheese was a staple for earlier generations, many millennials prefer natural cheeses without preservatives.

The Wall Street Journal said similar sentiments were contributing to the current cheese glut. Americans are becoming more adventurous in their cheese choices, trying foreign options over the cheese favoured by past generations.

“I can’t stand to eat processed American or pasteurised cheese product,” Gerrard Burks, a 29-year-old tutor from Detroit, told The Journal.

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