The Big Cheese

cheese.jpgEveryone thinks of Wisconsin as the Dairy State because it produces more cheese than any other state. Who can forget those crazy cheesehead hats at the Green Bay Packers games?

Nipping at the heels of America’s Dairyland are cheesemakers in California, which may soon pass Wisconsin as the largest maker of cheeses in the United States. Last year, California manufacturers produced 2.14 billion pounds of cheese, which is about 25 percent of the U.S. total. That’s a big surge from only 20 years ago when they produced about 7 percent. Wisconsin is still king, though, with 2.4 billion pounds each year. A recent AP story makes it clear that the trend favors the west coast producers.

Food production is the largest single manufacturing sector in the United States, eclipsing autos, electronics and other sectors you might have thought were the largest. So it is indeed interesting to see this shift within that sector. The Manufacturing Institute just released the 7th edition of The Facts About Modern Manufacturing where we discuss this and other neat things about U.S. producers. Click here for a link to the page about today’s largest manufacturing sectors.

In some ways, this migration is not surprising. California is far and away the largest manufacturing state in the nation, followed by Texas. So making cheese there is no more surprising than making aerospace components, auto parts or semiconductors. (From a policy aspect, what is surprising is how little many of that state’s elected officials prize manufacturing and seem to find new ways every year to drive a good share of it out to other regions). Our new Facts Book ranks the states, too, so check that out too while you are visting our Web site.

To read the full AP story about California vs. Wisconsin cheesemakers, click here.