Retail volume sales within the US cheese market grew by 2% in 2012, while value sales declined by 2% in current terms. Americans purchased more cheese in 2012 as prices declined.
Cheese sales are a key economic component of the US dairy industry. As consumer demand for cheese products has risen over time, more of the milk produced on American dairy operations has been allocated to making a variety of cheeses.
Approximately 188.9 billion pounds of milk were marketed in the United States in 2008, and 127 billion pounds were used in the manufacture of dairy products. Cheese production (not including cottage cheese) took about 65% (82 billion pounds) of the milk used for manufactured products. Continued growth in cheese consumption is a key factor in determining a positive market outlook for the US dairy industry.
Cheese prices declined through 2012 as cheese producers have passed on the lower costs of milk to consumers. Milk prices had increased in 2011 due to stronger global demand for dairy products as well as higher corn feed prices. However, in the first half of 2012 milk prices fell due to growth in the global milk supply as Australia, Asia and South America increased their milk production.
Domestic manufacturers dominated the US cheese market in 2012. The top five domestic players - Kraft Foods, Kroger Co, Sargento Foods, Safeway and Land O'Lakes Inc held a combined 47% value share in 2012.
Kraft Foods continued its dominance of the US cheese market in 2012, with a value share of 28%, unchanged from 2011. The company owes its position to its dominance in processed cheese through its Kraft Singles and Kraft Philadelphia brands. Kraft has been successful in extending its Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese brand to include Cooking Crème in 2011 and Indulgence in 2012.
Growing knowledge regarding cheese varieties should aid sales over the next five years. Retailers and cheese makers alike are expected to continue to educate consumers about speciality cheeses, with sales forecast to increase by 9% in constant value terms and 4% in retail volume terms through to 2017.
For more information on the US cheese market, see the latest research: US Cheese Market
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