Cream Cheese: Production, Demand, and Shifting Consumer Preferences

May 2021

Love it or hate it, cream cheese is a staple in many kitchens. But did you know that there are some signs that indicate whether the cream cheese you have is still okay to eat? If your container has an expiration date set for after three weeks from now, then you are most likely good to go! If however the date has already passed by and your container is not refrigerated, then beware – there’s a high chance that the cream cheese can spoil with time. It’s always best to check the date first before eating it.


Store cream cheese in the refrigerator and, if possible, use within two to three days. There are also some home appliances too which come with built-in storage that do not involve a fridge – think air fryers and slow cookers. Be sure to use a clean utensil when tasting your cream cheese – as much as possible, use a clean spoon or fork for dipping that will not transfer bacteria or whatever may be on the utensil into your mouth.


The demand for cream cheese has been steadily rising, but many people are opting to eat non-dairy alternatives. Dairy is a supply-constraint that can create challenges for dairy producers when the demand exceeds supply.


This is an issue because the revenue generated by cream cheese largely depends on milk production in order to maintain prices. If milk prices fall too low, sellers may not be able to cover production costs and cream cheese will become more expensive due to increased transportation costs associated with shortages in product availability. In recent years, producers have experienced drops in profits due to the creation of new overseas markets as well as devaluation of currencies abroad which has led to substantial declines in exports and rising imports.


As domestic demand for cream cheese continues to rise, many dairy farmers are faced with an issue of supply. Due to recent milk prices and increasing worldwide demand, many dairy farm owners are cutting down on the amount of cows they keep and instead raising more replacements. This has led to a decrease in supply available for producers who have been led to go overseas in order to provide the needed cream cheese supply. In turn, this has increased overseas imports which has created greater demand for imported products, such as foreign milk. This situation can cause challenges when local farmers are unable to reach the required production levels that they face at present and depend on foreign imports which can also lead to higher transportation costs and thus, higher retail prices.


Domestically, the growth of the cream cheese industry is also facing challenges due to a decline in consumption by Hispanic and Asian consumers. For example, Hispanics tend to prefer Mexican styles of cheese and Asian consumers tend to have different tastes as well. Because of these preferences, some dairy farmers are seeing lower sales at the retail level which may be partly responsible for the consumer's decision to switch from cream cheese back to other more popular types of dairy products. In order to attract both Hispanic and Asian customers back into the cream cheese industry, major food industries are focusing on improving packaging design, flavors, and convenience while also lowering retail prices.


One solution to rising demand but a decline in supply is potentially to increase the number of farmers. In order to achieve this, farmers would need to either improve the efficiency of their farms, reduce waste on farms through technologies such as milk handling robots, or find ways of raising production levels while still maintaining their profits. This is something that can be achieved through increased research and development regarding how to improve production systems.


However, dairy farmers might also have to look at other markets in order to increase cream cheese consumption by consumers. One example of this would be expansions of cream cheese availability in food service industries since around one-third of holiday catering is not prepared using the traditional dairy and eggs products that are bought during the rest of the year.

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