Cheese manufacturers hope to capitalize on the world’s growing taste for pizza, a likely factor in this year’s record high cheese prices.
Americans continue to increase their consumption of pizza, which means demand for pizza cheeses will continue to grow, but Americans are not alone in their love of the cheese-topped flatbread pie.
“Pizza has been dubbed ‘the world’s most popular food,’ a concept not lost on U.S. cheese manufacturers,” says Sara Dorland, analyst with the Daily Dairy Report and managing partner of in Ceres Dairy Risk Management, LLC, Seattle. According to USDA, year-to-date through August U.S. Mozzarella production was 6.6% above year-ago output.
According to the 2014 USDA report “Consumption of Pizza,” about one in eight Americans and one in four males ages 6 to 19 consume pizza on any given day. “Pizza is recognized as a high-consumption food and a contributor of nutrients of public significance in the American diet, including total fat, calcium, and sodium,” the report states.
Pizza consumption in the United States is growing steadily, near a 1.6% annual gain, according to Pizza Today. And pizza manufacturers worldwide are looking to develop new markets in expectation of tremendous growth as people all over the world develop a taste for pizza. More than 250 new Pizza Hut restaurants alone are expected to open in China this year, according to the company.
Inroads into new markets
“Between 2006 and 2011, pizza consumption has surged in traditionally non-cheese-consuming regions,” says Dorland. “Even more impressive, China’s growing appetite for pizza could be a prelude of what’s to come. Some estimates show China’s demand for Mozzarella could grow 20 percent this year and 20 percent again next year.”
China’s growing taste for pizza and cheese has likely been a driving force behind this year’s record-high cheese prices, notes Dorland. Through August, China imported 46,085 metric tons (101.6 million pounds) of cheese, 51 percent more than the comparable period a year ago. In fact, Dorland says, China’s imports for the first eight months of the year are just shy of its 2013 full-year cheese imports of 47,316 metric tons.
China’s largest dairy trading partner, New Zealand, holds a commanding 42 percent share of China’s cheese imports, followed by Australia with 28 percent share, and the United States with 19 percent, notes Dorland. China’s fresh cheese imports totaled 10,418 metric tons through August, nearly 29 percent of total cheese imports. Again New Zealand accounted for the lion’s share of China’s fresh cheese imports, 78 percent, from January through August 2014.
“With hundreds of new pizza outlets planned to open in China next year, pizza cheese demand could be the bright spot in what’s shaping up to be a rather dull outlook for world dairy product markets,” says Dorland.