How Big is the U.S. Cheese Stockpile?
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How Big is the U.S. Cheese Stockpile?

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Graphic showing the amount of cheese the U.S. has stockpiled in cold storage

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How Big is the U.S. Cheese Stockpile?

As of August 2022, the U.S. had 1.5 billion pounds of cheese in cold storage across the country. That’s around $3.4 billion worth of cheese.

Using data from USDA, this graphic looks at just how big the U.S. cheese stockpile has gotten over the last few years, and compares it to notable landmarks to help put things into perspective.

But before diving into the data, we’ll take a step back to quickly explain why America’s cheese stockpile has gotten so big in the first place.

Why So Much Cheese?

Over the last 30 years, milk production in the U.S. has increased by 50%.

Yet, while milk production has climbed, milk consumption has declined. In 2004, Americans consumed the equivalent of about 0.57 cups of milk per day. By 2018, average milk consumption had dropped to 0.33 cup-equivalents.

In response to this predicament, the U.S. government and dairy companies have been purchasing the extra milk and storing it as cheese for years.

So, where does one store such a large amount of cheese? A sizable portion of the stockpile is stored in a massive underground warehouse (a former limestone quarry) outside of Springfield, Missouri.

The Stockpile Keeps Growing

Apart from a small dip in 2021 during the global pandemic, America’s stockpile of cheese has increased steadily over the last five years:

DateTotal cheese in cold storage (billion pounds)Y-o-y change (%)
April 20181.353.8%
April 20191.403.7%
April 20201.485.7%
April 20211.45-2.0%
April 20221.482.1%

Between April 2018 and April 2022, U.S. cheese holdings increased by 130 million pounds to reach 1.48 billion pounds. After climbing up to 1.52 billion pounds in July, the stockpile settled once again at 1.48 billion pounds at the end of August 2022.

Now, the U.S. cheese stockpile weighs more than the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Tower of Pisa, and the Great Sphinx of Giza—combined.

Is the Cheese Stockpile Here to Stay?

Attempts have been made to get rid of the cheese stockpile. Over the years, the government has established federal food welfare programs and encouraged milk consumption in schools throughout the country.

Yet, despite their best efforts to decrease the surplus, America’s cheese stockpile continues to grow.

As domestic consumers continue to decrease their milk consumption, and switch out their dairy milk for milk alternatives like almond or oat milk, how much bigger will this cheese stockpile get before the government comes up with an alternative solution to deal with its surplus of dairy?

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Agriculture

Charted: U.S. Egg Prices More Than Double in 2022

This chart shows the increase in the national average price of a dozen Grade A eggs in the U.S. in 2022.

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This chart shows the increase in the national average price of a dozen grade-A eggs in the U.S. in 2022.

Charted: U.S. Egg Prices Double in 2022

Eggs are a staple food for many countries around the world, and the U.S. is no exception. Americans eat between 250‒280 eggs a year on average.

Eggs are also easy to cook, protein-dense and supply many daily vitamins needed for healthy living, making them a popular meal or ingredient. So when egg prices rise, people notice.

MetalytIQ charted the rapid rise of egg prices in the U.S. during 2022, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).

Eggs-asperating Prices

Over the course of 12 months, the national average price for a dozen large Grade A eggs more than doubled, to $4.25 in December from $1.93 in January.

Egg Prices Per Month (2022)Price per dozen
January$1.30
February$2.10
March$2.50
April$2.52
May$2.86
June$2.71
July$2.94
August$3.12
September$2.90
October$3.42
November$3.59
December$4.25

The biggest culprit has been an avian flu outbreak that resulted in 43 million chickens culled to prevent the spread of the disease.

This led to a severe shortfall in egg supply. Egg inventories in December had fallen by one-third compared to January. Combined with increasing demand during the holiday season, prices skyrocketed and empty shelves became apparent in some states.

This is not the first time avian flu has disrupted the industry.. In 2015, a similar outbreak pushed egg prices up 40% in nine months, reaching a high of $2.97 per dozen eggs in September 2015.

Will Egg Prices Drop in 2023?

Avian flu isn’t the only storm the egg industry has been facing in 2022.

The prices of soybean and corn—the main components of bird feed—account for half of the cost of eggs. They’ve been heavily affected by the war in Ukraine, which has driven grain prices higher.

In the near-term, egg prices are expected to remain high. Containing the avian flu outbreak will remain the biggest factor in determining the prices, but as suppliers increase production, prices may cool off a little in 2023.

Eggs and dairy make up nearly 10% of the average person’s daily calorie intake. Check out the rest of our dietary make-up in Visualizing a Rapidly Changing Global Diet.
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