Mozzarella, the most popular Italian cheese, has topped Cheddar to become the leader in the US dairy market, helped by its versatile use in many old and new recipes. American consumers eat 5 kg of mozzarella cheese per capita every year, followed by Brazilians and Italians, who consume around 3 kg, according to the Italian milk and dairy association Assolatte. More than half of the mozzarella cheese produced around the world (54.5%) is sold in the United States. While consumption of mozzarella in the mature Italian market is slowing, exports to the US increased 31.7% to 674 tons in 2016, generating revenues of 5.3 million euros. More importantly, demand for mozzarella in the United States is forecast to grow by 133 million tons by 2020, Assolatte said.
A versatile cheese
The summer season is expected to drive sales also in Italy, where consumption has weakened despite the lower prices (down 1% in 2016), numerous promotions (over 36% of sales) and a larger assortment. A single supermarket store in Italy offers on average 74 different products of mozzarella. Another important driver of sales is the versatility of this Southern Italian cheese traditionally made by mixing and kneading fresh curds in a bath of very hot water or whey – a technique also known as “pasta filata”. America’s passion for pizza is also driving sales in the United States, where consumption of pizza has grown by 25% in the last decade. Americans are also experimenting with new ideas, from the “mozzarella sticks” and cheese rolls with bacon to the “meatzza”, an increasingly popular dish whose crust is made of ground beef instead of dough.