Cheese Exports by Country

Cheese Exports by Country

Cheese on the plate

Global sales from cheese exports by country totaled an estimated US$31.5 billion for 2018.

Overall, the value of cheese exports fell by an average -4.6% for all exporting countries since 2014 when cheese shipments were valued at $333 billion. Year over year, the value of global cheese exports appreciated by 2.5% from 2017 to 2018.

Among continents, European countries sold the highest dollar value worth of exported cheese with shipments amounting to $26.5 billion or 84.2% of globally exported cheese. Cheese exports from New Zealand, Australia and other Oceania geographies amounted to 6.6%, well ahead of North American exporters at 4.9%. Smaller percentages came from Latin America (1.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (1.2%) and Asia (also 1.2%).

The 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for cheese and curd is 0406.

Cheese Exports by Country


Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of cheese during 2018.

  1. Germany: US$4.6 billion (14.5% of total cheese exports)
  2. Netherlands: $4.1 billion (13%)
  3. France: $3.7 billion (11.6%)
  4. Italy: $3.3 billion (10.4%)
  5. Denmark: $1.8 billion (5.6%)
  6. United States: $1.5 billion (4.7%)
  7. New Zealand: $1.3 billion (4.2%)
  8. Belgium: $1 billion (3.3%)
  9. Ireland: $967.2 million (3.1%)
  10. Poland: $925.1 million (2.9%)
  11. United Kingdom: $901.5 million (2.9%)
  12. Belarus: $807.7 million (2.6%)
  13. Australia: $760 million (2.4%)
  14. Austria: $696.3 million (2.2%)
  15. Switzerland: $635.8 million (2%)

The listed 15 countries shipped 85.3% of all cheese exports in 2018 by value.

Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing cheese exporters since 2014 were: United Kingdom (up 16.8%), Italy (up 14%), Austria (up 12.2%) and Australia (up 7%).

Those countries that posted declines in their exported cheese sales were led by: United States (down -13.8%), Germany (down -11.1%), France (down -9.4%), Switzerland (down -4.2%) and Ireland (down -3.3%).


The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for cheese during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s cheese exports and its import purchases for that same commodity.

  1. Netherlands: US$2.6 billion (net export surplus down -11.5% since 2014)
  2. France: $1.8 billion (down -21.7%)
  3. Denmark: $1.3 billion (up 1.7%)
  4. New Zealand: $1.3 billion (up 1.3%)
  5. Italy: $1.2 billion (up 183.1%)
  6. Belarus: $787.1 million (up 4.4%)
  7. Ireland: $677.9 million (down -6.6%)
  8. Poland: $529.9 million (down -4.2%)
  9. Australia: $251.5 million (up 7.2%)
  10. Argentina: $231.6 million (down -15.3%)
  11. Switzerland: $198.9 million (down -15.3%)
  12. Cyprus: $175.5 million (up 163.2%)
  13. Germany: $172.8 million (down -64%)
  14. Lithuania: $167.5 million (down -41.8%)
  15. United States: $148.8 million (down -61.1%)

Netherlands has the highest surplus in the international trade of cheese. In turn, this positive albeit slowing cashflow confirms Netherlands’s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category in part due to its strategic location for distributing cheese products to European markets.


The following countries (UK is a geographical union) posted the highest negative net exports for cheese during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s cheese import purchases and its exports for that same commodity.

  1. United Kingdom: -US$1.3 billion (net export deficit down -17.2% since 2014)
  2. Japan: -$1.3 billion (up 8.4%)
  3. Russia: -$897.1 million (down -40%)
  4. Spain: -$634.8 million (down -9.7%)
  5. Sweden: -$602.4 million (down -7.4%)
  6. South Korea: -$531.5 million (up 7.2%)
  7. China: -$512 million (up 50%)
  8. Mexico: -$489.7 million (down -1.4%)
  9. Belgium: -$488.6 million (down -14%)
  10. Saudi Arabia: -$328.9 million (down -18%)
  11. Finland: -$264.6 million (up 27.9%)
  12. Canada: -$238.7 million (up 17.4%)
  13. Romania: -$227 million (up 82.1%)
  14. Portugal: -$199.3 million (up 26%)
  15. United Arab Emirates: -$195.1 million (down -36%)

United Kingdom incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of cheese. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights the UK’s competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for cheese-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand from UK consumers.


Cheese Exporting Companies

Below are the top dairy companies that dominate the worldwide trade in cheese and other dairy products in 2014. This ranked list was compiled by market information researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)-AID. Shown within brackets is where headquarters is located for the cheese exporting companies.

  • Nestle (Switzerland)
  • Danone (France)
  • Lactalis including Parmalat (France)
  • Fonterra (New Zealand)
  • FrieslandCampina (Netherlands)
  • Dairy Farmers of America (United States)
  • Arla Foods (Denmark)
  • Saputo (Canada)
  • Dean Foods (United State)
  • Yili Group (China)
  • Unilever (Netherlands/United Kingdom)
  • Meiji Dairies (Japan)
  • DMK Deutsches Milchkontor GmbH (Germany)
  • Mengniu Dairy (China)

Searchable List of Cheese Exporting Countries in 2018

You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of any of the columns below.

RankExporterCheese Exports (US$)%World Total
1.Germany$4.6 billion14.5%
2.Netherlands$4.1 billion13%
3.France$3.7 billion11.6%
4.Italy$3.3 billion10.4%
5.Denmark$1.8 billion5.6%
6.United States$1.5 billion4.7%
7.New Zealand$1.3 billion4.2%
8.Belgium$1 billion3.3%
9.Ireland$967.2 million3.1%
10.Poland$925.1 million2.9%
11.United Kingdom$901.5 million2.9%
12.Belarus$807.7 million2.6%
13.Australia$760 million2.4%
14.Austria$696.3 million2.2%
15.Switzerland$635.8 million2%
16.Spain$585.3 million1.9%
17.Greece$530.4 million1.7%
18.Egypt$268.9 million0.9%
19.Luxembourg$267.7 million0.8%
20.Argentina$246.3 million0.8%
21.Czech Republic$240.6 million0.8%
22.Cyprus$232.9 million0.7%
23.Lithuania$225.6 million0.7%
24.Turkey$166.5 million0.5%
25.Slovakia$154.2 million0.5%
26.Hungary$145.8 million0.5%
27.Uruguay$121.2 million0.4%
28.Nicaragua$120.4 million0.4%
29.Bulgaria$96.2 million0.3%
30.Latvia$95.8 million0.3%
31.Estonia$78.9 million0.3%
32.Sweden$72.6 million0.2%
33.Norway$71.3 million0.2%
34.Russia$68.1 million0.2%
35.Romania$60.7 million0.2%
36.Morocco$56.9 million0.2%
37.Finland$56.7 million0.2%
38.Serbia$53.7 million0.2%
39.Canada$52 million0.2%
40.Portugal$44.9 million0.1%
41.Croatia$41.3 million0.1%
42.South Africa$41.3 million0.1%
43.Slovenia$38 million0.1%
44.India$36.2 million0.1%
45.Saudi Arabia$32.5 million0.1%
46.Jordan$32.3 million0.1%
47.Chile$32.1 million0.1%
48.Ukraine$31 million0.1%
49.Mexico$25.7 million0.1%
50.El Salvador$22.8 million0.1%
51.Brazil$17.8 million0.1%
52.Costa Rica$17.1 million0.1%
53.Singapore$13.9 million0.04%
54.Japan$10.6 million0.03%
55.Honduras$10.2 million0.03%
56.Kazakhstan$8.8 million0.03%
57.Armenia$8.5 million0.03%
58.Hong Kong$8.5 million0.03%
59.Tunisia$7.7 million0.02%
60.Israel$7.7 million0.02%
61.Iceland$6.5 million0.02%
62.Kyrgyzstan$6.2 million0.02%
63.Malaysia$5.4 million0.02%
64.Moldova$5.4 million0.02%
65.Iran$5.3 million0.02%
66.Jamaica$4.4 million0.01%
67.Bahrain$4.1 million0.01%
68.Colombia$3.9 million0.01%
69.Bosnia/Herzegovina$3.8 million0.01%
70.Thailand$3.8 million0.01%
71.Indonesia$3.6 million0.01%
72.Panama$3.6 million0.01%
73.Malta$3.1 million0.01%
74.Vietnam$2.9 million0.01%
75.Lebanon$2.9 million0.01%
76.Azerbaijan$2.7 million0.01%
77.South Korea$2.2 million0.01%
78.Taiwan$2 million0.01%
79.Syrian Arab Republic$1.9 million0.01%
80.North Macedonia$1.7 million0.01%
81.Peru$1.4 million0.005%
82.Paraguay$1.4 million0.004%
83.China$1.2 million0.004%
84.Dominican Republic$688,0000.002%
87.United Arab Emirates$356,0000.001%
97.Cook Islands$85,0000.0003%
104.St Vincent/Grenadines$45,0000.0001%
107.Ivory Coast$35,0000.0001%
112.Brunei Darussalam$17,0000.0001%
115.British Virgin Islands$10,0000.00003%
117.Central African Republic$8,0000.00003%
124.Sierra Leone$3,0000.00001%
128.US Minor Outlying Is$2,0000.00001%

See also Cheese Imports by Country, Flour Exports by Country and Wheat Exports by Country

Research Sources:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)-AID, market information centre, Top Global Dairy Companies, Processing Sector. Accessed on May 6, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 6, 2019

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 6, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 6, 2019

Wikipedia, Cheese. Accessed on May 6, 2019