If you’re engaging in the great American tradition of having a barbecue today, make sure you include a lot of cheese. Even if you won’t be cooking out, get out to the store and stock up on the style of your choice and try a few new ones. You’ll not only enjoy it (including you lactose intolerant folks if you get the right kind) but you’ll be helping your country. We are in the midst of the Great Cheese Glut of 2016 and things are getting serious. (Washington Post)
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about already, here comes a new issue: The Great Cheese Glut of 2016. The Wall Street Journal reports that as of March 31, 1.19 billion pounds had accumulated in commercial cold-storage freezers across the United States, the largest stockpile ever.
This affects an entire global industry, from Wisconsin Dells to Whole Foods shelves. Yet each American would have to eat an extra 3 pounds of cheese this year, on top of the 36 pounds we already consume per capita, to eliminate the big yellow mountain. Even for a society that piles the stuff on sandwiches and rolls it into pizza crusts, that’s a tall order.
It’s not that just that the cows are being more productive than normal. They are, with a record amount of milk being produced. But even with all that milk, the cheese supply probably would be at normal levels if not for the fact that the market for American cheese has contracted a bit and faces steeper competiton thanks to… Vladimir Putin. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.)
After Russia invaded Ukraine a few years back, new sanctions were placed on them. In retaliation, Putin took a few steps, including banning agricultural imports from the European Union. That took place just as the Europeans were moving to new growth surges in the dairy industry, including cheese production. This, combined with shifting currency values, led to a lot more cheese being exported to the United States at lower prices just as our own production was ramping up.
Isn’t global economics a fun topic?
The end result is that we’re sitting on a massive stockpile of cheese here in the United States. And thanks to domestic policies which subsidize dairy production and keep prices up, there’s no decline in cheese production on the horizon. (I know… you’re shocked that federal tampering in the free market could lead to problems.) So there’s only one thing to do. We have to eat all this cheese. Get cracking people… America is depending on you.