If our globalized world is a melting pot of cultures, call our increasing love of cheese our molten, bubbling, global bowl of fondue.
Government agencies and industry groups have been keeping track of the amount of cheese we shove into our mouths for decades, and the numbers tell a clear story. Gooey, hard, sharp, or creamy, data shows that Americans and citizens of the world alike can’t get enough of everyone’s favorite coagulated milk protein: cheese.
“Cheese consumption has been growing over time,” Jerry Cessna, a USDA agricultural economist, who has been tracking dairy trends for the last 20 years, said. “There have been some ups and downs, but mostly ups. It’s grown tremendously if you look at the long-term.”
The USDA’s five decades of cheese data shows that Americans have steadily increased the amount of cheese each person eats on average per year. Between 1977 and 2017 (the most recent year for which the USDA has per-capita consumption data), Americans increased the amount of cheese every person ate each year from 16 pounds to 37 pounds. That’s an increase of 21 pounds per person! To which we can only say … nommmm.
Analysts like Cessna are hesitant to say what’s behind this increase for sure (those economists, so precise!), but they have a few ideas. The increase in eating out and ordering in has fueled the popularity of foods like pizza, which means we’re adding mounds of mozzarella to our diets. The convenience of pre-shredded or individually wrapped cheese products made it a go-to meal addition or snack. In recent years we’ve forsaken the fat-free/low-fat diet in favor of diets that embrace “good” fats — which includes whole milk products. As a whole, Americans are consuming more fatty dairy products, including cheese.
Those trends show up in the types of cheese we eat, too. Cheddar cheese was the most popular cheese for decades. Then, in the mid aughts, mozzarella started gaining on it, and has claimed the top spot as the most consumed cheese, since 2010 (mozzarella is a key ingredient in string cheese and pizza). Our tastes may also be growing more sophisticated: the amount of processed cheese and “cheese products” we eat has been declining since a mid-nineties high, while Italian and more artisanal cheeses are on the rise.
Producers are stepping up to meet the demand for cheesy goodness around the globe, too. Places like China that haven’t traditionally eaten much cheese are increasing their shares of the cheese wheel, Cessna noted.
More disposable income in less developed countries, and the adoption of cheese-happy American staples like pizza or nachos, has also opened up demand for cheddar and her sisters around the world.
Original article sourced from https://mashable.com/