Natalia Lusinski
May 01, 2016 5:18 am
Lucas Richarz / www.flickr.com

Next time you want a sandwich, you may want to make a cheese one, or grilled cheese, or mac ‘n’ cheese, or something with the delicious dairy product. Why? It turns out that the U.S. has more than enough unsold cheese — 1.2 billion pounds’ worth “enough,” in fact, according to the USDA and Bloomberg. It’s a cheese crisis, of sorts, and hasn’t happened in over 30 years. At the end of March, cheese inventories were the highest for the period since 1984, according to USDA statistics. Crazy!

I know, is that possible?! Too much cheese? If you’re like me, there’s no such thing!

In case you’re wondering, over half of the excess cheese is American, with Swiss being second, around two percent, followed by “other.” (Hmm.) And grab some butter for your grilled cheese, too, ‘cause the U.S. has a ton extra of that, as well, under its dairy overage umbrella.

Why? Exports from the European Union (EU).

The EU has gotten more customers in the Middle East and in Asia, due to extra milk, lower prices, and a weaker euro, but sales in the U.S. have decreased. So, cheese and butter in the U.S. need consumers. Like you and me. And Tina Fey.

Last year, imports of EU cheese went up by 17 percent for cheese and doubled for butter, according to the European Commission.

“It’s been difficult for them to export, given the strong dollar, and they’re sucking in imports,” said Kevin Bellamy, a global dairy market strategist at Rabobank International in Utrecht, the Netherlands. “Where the U.S. has lost out on business, Europe has gained.”

Yes, Europe has gained, though European dairy farmers could be in trouble because of the low prices from the milk overage.

According to the European Commission, the EU increased shipments of cheese, up 13 percent this year, as well as shipments of butter, by 27 percent.

To be supportive — and out of my love of cheese — I’m going to go buy a bunch and have a cheese party — grilled cheese and homemade mac ‘n’ cheese for everyone! Maybe you should do the same. Just think, if we all did it, we could help end the cheese crisis!

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