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2020 Butter and Cheese Demand Hits Records

February 22, 2021

Consumers ate record amounts of butter and cheese last year despite the disruption in foodservice. Total commercial disappearance of butter at 186.7 million pounds in December was 5.2% higher than in December 2019 and the strongest level for any December since records began in 1995, according to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service released earlier this month. Total disappearance is comprised of domestic commercial disappearance and exports, and domestic disappearance of butter also set a new high in December of 180.7 million pounds. However, stocks built due to the abundance of cream available. For all of 2020, domestic disappearance of butter was nearly 2.1 billion pounds, the highest ever.

On the other hand, total commercial disappearance of American cheese in December of 425.8 million pounds decreased 5.2% from the same period in 2019, while domestic disappearance of American cheese fell 5.3% to 414.1 million pounds.

This category includes Cheddar, Colby, Monterey, and Jack cheeses. Both total and domestic disappearance numbers were the lowest December values since 2016. Still, for all of 2020, domestic disappearance of American cheese of nearly 5.15 billion pounds and total disappearance of 5.3 billion pounds were both the highest on record.

Domestic disappearance of the Other cheese category fell just over 2.7% year over year in December to 634.1 million pounds. Annual domestic disappearance for Other cheeses declined 1.2% from 2019 to 7.45 billion pounds. The decline in foodservice sales, particularly at sit-down restaurants, likely led to the annual decrease in the Other cheeses category.

These data suggest that demand for dairy was very robust last year. While the supply of these products outweighed the strong disappearance numbers, consumers continue to increase their dairy consumption.

The butter market declined 4¢ in spot trading today to close at $1.51/lb., while block cheese increased 3.25¢ to end at $1.57/lb.



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