In Mexico, Risks Rise for US’ Biggest Cheese Export Market
- Mexico is by far the No. 1 destination for US cheese exports. With the US dairy industry sitting on a mountain of surplus cheese, any development that undermines its ability to sell into Mexico is bad news. Trade tariffs Mexico erected against the US this summer, now easing, was one such obstacle. Another is a new Mexico-EU trade agreement, reached in principle in April. And Mexico’s newly elected government is planning agricultural programs that could increase milk production, and in turn give a boost to the country’s domestic cheese industry. A new USDA report clearly shows that Mexico’s domestic consumption of products such as cheese and yogurt are growing much faster than the country’s ability to produce the raw ingredient for those products—milk. Mexico’s fluid cow milk production for 2019 is forecast at 12.5 million tonnes, a modest increase from 12.3 million tonnes this year, according to USDA estimates. About two-thirds of the milk is used by industry, including to make traditional cheeses like Fresco, Doble Crema, Panela, and Amarillo. Cheese production in 2019 is forecast to be 422,000 tonnes, up from 410,000 tonnes this year. But that provides less than 80 percent of domestic consumption needs. The US supplies the bulk of Mexico’s cheese imports, with a market share of 79 percent.