Cheese prices skyrocket as people discover cheese equals happiness

Cheese!
Cheese!
Photo: Maurizio Cigognetti (Getty Images)

While some commodities and marketplaces have a reputation for instability, cheese is not typically one of them. COVID-19 is nothing if not a disruptor, though, and after experiencing a massive drop in prices the market for cheese is now at a record high.

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According to The New York Times, while cheese prices plummeted dramatically at the onset of the pandemic—largely because of restaurants and schools closing—they have since whiplashed in the other direction thanks to both fluctuations in supply and demand and the fact that consumers have discovered cheese is amazing and is in fact a good substitute for almost every other now-absent thing in your life that once brought you joy.

Beyond the fact that if you’re missing out if you’re not literally eating cheese right this second, like frozen orange juice it is also a traded commodity. This means that price fluctuations aren’t just noticed by customers in the store, they’re observed on the trading floor of the stock market. So when the price of cheddar jumped from roughly a dollar a pound in mid-April to $2.585 a pound around one week ago, the 181% difference turned some heads.

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What’s so interesting about this is the fact that the price drop in April suddenly made America one of the most affordable cheese producers in the world, resulting in purchases from both the international community and from a multitude of other buyers, including both regular consumers and the U.S. government. This, in part, has caused prices to rise, and while those gains aren’t great news for curd enthusiasts, hopefully they will help to buoy the U.S. dairy industry, which has been hit spectacularly hard in recent years.

Jacob Dean is a food and travel writer and psychologist based in New York. He likes beer, less traveled airports, and is allergic to grasshoppers (the insect, not the mixed drink.)

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DISCUSSION

Wow, I had no idea that fajitas in Texas could possibly have this much of an effect on the market.