There’s a lot of uncertainty in life. So here’s a comforting thought: The United States of America will not run out of cheese anytime soon.
As the Washington Post reports, US dairy producers now have a whopping 1.39 billion-pound surplus of cheese. That’s the largest domestic reserve of cheddar, Swiss, American, and other cheese varieties on record. There’s enough excess cheese to arm each American citizen with a hefty 4.6 pounds of the crumbly, melty, salty good stuff.
You might ask yourself: Why the massive cheese stockpile? There’s a larger story here: US dairy producers have been overproducing milk. When there’s a milk surplus, it gets turned into cheese, which can be stored for longer periods before spoiling. The Post notes milk and cheese surpluses tend to peak during the summer months, when dairy demand is down. Additionally, cows — which are more efficient milk producers than ever before, thanks to selective breeding — generate the most milk in the springtime.
This trend isn’t new: As Brad Plumer reported in 2016, the American dairy industry has been overproducing for years. (In 2016, the US Department of Agriculture purchased millions of dollars worth of cheese to help ease the surplus. It was distributed to food banks.)
The American dairy market is certainly interesting, but here’s what we really wanted to know: What does more than a billion pounds of cheese even look like? Extrapolating from the density of this popular brand of cheddar, 1.39 billion pounds of cheese would roughly take up 900,303 cubic yards. That’s a mountain of cheese, comparable to the size of the US Capitol Building.
And what a glorious sight that would be.
- The Washington Post’s report: “America’s cheese stockpile just hit an all-time high”
- Back in 2016, the cheese surplus only weighed 1.2 billion pounds.