Perhaps no other fermented food starts with such a simple raw material and ends up with products having such an incredible diversity of color, flavor, texture, and appearance as does cheese. It is even more remarkable that milk, pale in color and bland in flavor, can be transformed into literally hundreds of different types of flavorful, colorful cheeses by manipulating just a few critical steps. How so many cheeses evolved from this simple process undoubtedly involved part trial and error, part luck, and plenty of art and skill. It is fair to assume that, until very recently, most cheese makers had only scant knowledge of science, and microbiology in particular. Now, however, it is likely that few fermented foods require such a blend of science, technology, and craftsmanship as does the making of cheese.
On a volume basis, the cheese industry is the largest of all those involved in fermented foods manufacture. Of the 75 billion Kg (165 billion pounds) of milk produced in the United States in 2001, more than one-third was used in the manufacture of 3.7 billion Kg (8.1 billion pounds) of cheese. About a fourth of that cheese was used to make various types of processed cheese (discussed later).
On a per capita basis, cheese consumption in the United States has increased in the past twenty-five years from 8 Kg in 1980 to nearly 14 Kg (30.1 pounds) per person per year in 2003 (of U.S. made cheese).The most popular cheeses have been the American style (e.g., Cheddar, Colby) and Italian style (e.g., Mozzarella and pizza cheese) cheeses, accounting for 41.5% and 40.6%, respectively, of all cheeses consumed in the United States (Figure 5-1). In addition, another 0.75 Kg of imported cheese is consumed per person per year. Worldwide, Greece (26 Kg per person per year), France (24 Kg per person per year), and Italy (21 Kg per person per year) are the leading consumers of cheese, with other European countries not too far behind (Figure 5-2).
On the production side, American and Italian-types cheeses are, by far, the main cheeses produced in the United States. Although the American-type cheeses accounted for nearly 70% of all cheese produced in the United States in the 1960s, Italian-type cheeses and Mozzarella, in particular, are about to exceed that of American-type cheese, based on the current trend (Figure 5-3).
The U.S. cheese industry began in the mid-1800s, with factories opening first in New York (1851) and Wisconsin (1868). Prior to that time, cheese was mainly produced directly on farms and sold locally. By the late 1800s, about 4,000 cheese factories accounted for the nearly 100 million Kg (217 million pounds) of cheese. Most
Other Italian (1.3)
Other Italian (1.3)
Figure 5-1. Per capita consumption (Kg per person per year) of different varieties of cheese in the United States in 2003. Adapted from USDA Economic Research Service statistics.
cheese factories were located in the dairy-producing states ofWisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New York. In the past twenty years, California has emerged as the leading producer of milk and the second leading (to Wisconsin) manufacturer of cheese. However, like other segments of the food industry, more and more product is made by fewer and fewer plants. In 2001, there were half as many production facilities making American and Italian style cheese as there were in 1980, while, at the same time, production capacity increased by 100%.
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