Cheese Exports by Country

Cheese Exports by Country

Cheese plate (by Pixabay)

Global sales from cheese exports by country totaled US$30.4 billion in 2017.

Overall, the value of cheese exports fell by an average -3.8% for all exporting countries since 2013 when cheese shipments were valued at $31.6 billion. Year over year, the value of global cheese exports appreciated by 14.2% from 2016 to 2017.

Among continents, European countries served as sources for the highest dollar value worth of exported cheese with shipments amounting to $25.1 billion or 82.4% of globally exported cheese. Cheese exports from Australia and New Zealand amounted to 6.9%, well ahead of North American exporters at 5.1%, Asian shippers at 2.4%, providers in Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean at 1.9%, then African suppliers at 1.3%.

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 2017:

  1. Germany: US$4.4 billion (14.5% of total cheese exports)
  2. Netherlands: $4.1 billion (13.4%)
  3. France: $3.5 billion (11.3%)
  4. Italy: $3 billion (9.8%)
  5. Denmark: $1.7 billion (5.6%)
  6. United States: $1.5 billion (4.8%)
  7. New Zealand: $1.4 billion (4.5%)
  8. Belgium: $950.2 million (3.1%)
  9. Ireland: $922.8 million (3%)
  10. Poland: $799.5 million (2.6%)
  11. Belarus: $792.2 million (2.6%)
  12. United Kingdom: $791.4 million (2.6%)
  13. Australia: $721.5 million (2.4%)
  14. Austria: $629.6 million (2.1%)
  15. Switzerland: $610.2 million (2%)

The listed 15 countries shipped 84.4% of all cheese exports in 2017 by value.

Among the above countries, the fastest-growing cheese exporters since 2013 were: Belarus (up 22%), New Zealand (up 19.5%), United Kingdom (up 14.3%), Netherlands (up 9.6%) and Italy (up 8.8%).

Those countries that posted declines in their exported cheese sales were led by: Germany (down -14.3%), France (down -13.9%), Poland (down -12.7%) and Belgium (down -7.7%).


The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for cheese during 2017. 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$2.7 billion (net export surplus down -0.9% since 2013)
  2. France: $1.7 billion (down -26.8%)
  3. Denmark: $1.3 billion (up 9.4%)
  4. New Zealand: $1.3 billion (up 17.5%)
  5. Italy: $1 billion (up 239.4%)
  6. Belarus: $774.8 million (up 24.2%)
  7. Ireland: $669 million (down -1.9%)
  8. Poland: $452.1 million (down -27.4%)
  9. United States: $225 million (up 31.3%)
  10. Switzerland: $211.3 million (up 2.1%)
  11. Lithuania: $200.2 million (down -31.8%)
  12. Germany: $184.5 million (down -75.9%)
  13. Argentina: $178.7 million (down -25.7%)
  14. Australia: $166.5 million (down -55.2%)
  15. Egypt: $166.1 million (down -31.5%)

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 2017. 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$1.2 billion (net export deficit down -22.3% since 2013)
  2. Japan: -$1.2 billion (up 3.4%)
  3. Russia: -$860.1 million (down -58.7%)
  4. Spain: -$639.7 million (down -20.9%)
  5. Sweden: -$580 million (down -4%)
  6. South Korea: -$533 million (up 32.7%)
  7. China: -$496.3 million (up 115.6%)
  8. Mexico: -$495.4 million (up 8%)
  9. Belgium: -$462.9 million (down -17.9%)
  10. Saudi Arabia: -$372.7 million (up 23%)
  11. Finland: -$250.6 million (up 92.7%)
  12. United Arab Emirates: -$221.8 million (down -17.4%)
  13. Romania: -$193.5 million (up 70.5%)
  14. Canada: -$191.1 million (down -6.6%)
  15. Iraq: -$185.3 million (down -9.5%)

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 2013/4. 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

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

RankExporter2017 Cheese Exports% World Total
1.GermanyUS$4.4 billion14.5%
2.Netherlands$4.1 billion13.4%
3.France$3.5 billion11.3%
4.Italy$3 billion9.8%
5.Denmark$1.7 billion5.6%
6.United States$1.5 billion4.8%
7.New Zealand$1.4 billion4.5%
8.Belgium$950.2 million3.1%
9.Ireland$922.8 million3%
10.Poland$799.5 million2.6%
11.Belarus$792.2 million2.6%
12.United Kingdom$791.4 million2.6%
13.Australia$721.5 million2.4%
14.Austria$629.6 million2.1%
15.Switzerland$610.2 million2%
16.Spain$513.1 million1.7%
17.Greece$483.2 million1.6%
18.Saudi Arabia$283.6 million0.9%
19.Egypt$273.5 million0.9%
20.Lithuania$255.5 million0.8%
21.Luxembourg$249.2 million0.8%
22.Czech Republic$213.8 million0.7%
23.Argentina$198.3 million0.7%
24.Cyprus$186.4 million0.6%
25.Turkey$153.6 million0.5%
26.Hungary$135.7 million0.4%
27.Slovakia$134.7 million0.4%
28.Uruguay$129 million0.4%
29.Nicaragua$122 million0.4%
30.Bulgaria$94.1 million0.3%
31.Bahrain$83.5 million0.3%
32.Latvia$80.6 million0.3%
33.Sweden$77.2 million0.3%
34.Norway$71.6 million0.2%
35.Estonia$70 million0.2%
36.Russia$68.9 million0.2%
37.Morocco$65.1 million0.2%
38.Canada$62.3 million0.2%
39.Finland$53.3 million0.2%
40.Romania$53 million0.2%
41.Portugal$45.4 million0.1%
42.United Arab Emirates$45.4 million0.1%
43.Serbia$42.7 million0.1%
44.South Africa$40.2 million0.1%
45.Chile$38.1 million0.1%
46.Slovenia$35.2 million0.1%
47.Croatia$35.2 million0.1%
48.Ukraine$32.6 million0.1%
49.Jordan$28.9 million0.1%
50.Mexico$22.7 million0.1%
51.India$22.6 million0.1%
52.El Salvador$20 million0.1%
53.Brazil$18.1 million0.1%
54.Costa Rica$17.2 million0.1%
55.Kyrgyzstan$16.4 million0.1%
56.Honduras$14.7 million0.05%
57.Kuwait$14.4 million0.05%
58.Singapore$13.7 million0.04%
59.Armenia$12.5 million0.04%
60.Hong Kong$11.4 million0.04%
61.Japan$9.4 million0.03%
62.Tunisia$9 million0.03%
63.Kazakhstan$8 million0.03%
64.Israel$7.8 million0.03%
65.Jamaica$6.9 million0.02%
66.Malaysia$5.8 million0.02%
67.Iceland$5.8 million0.02%
68.Panama$5.2 million0.02%
69.Moldova$4.6 million0.02%
70.Indonesia$4.2 million0.01%
71.Iran$3.8 million0.01%
72.Bosnia/Herzegovina$3.8 million0.01%
73.Colombia$3.6 million0.01%
74.Macedonia$2.9 million0.01%
75.South Korea$2.7 million0.01%
76.Thailand$2.5 million0.01%
77.Oman$2.1 million0.01%
78.Lebanon$2 million0.01%
79.Taiwan$2 million0.01%
80.Paraguay$1.7 million0.01%
81.Syria$1.5 million0.005%
82.Nepal$1.4 million0.005%
83.Peru$1.4 million0.004%
84.Azerbaijan$1.3 million0.004%
85.China$1.2 million0.004%
86.Vietnam$1.1 million0.004%
87.Dominican Republic$689,0000.002%
99.Sri Lanka$66,0000.0002%
109.Brunei Darussalam$22,0000.0001%
114.Turks/Caicos Is$10,0000.00003%
125.New Caledonia$2,0000.00001%
126.St Vincent/Grenadines$2,0000.00001%
127.Côte d'Ivoire$2,0000.00001%
132.Sao Tome/Principe$1,0000.000003%

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 22, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 22, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 22, 2018

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)-AID, market information centre, Top Global Dairy Companies, Processing Sector. Accessed on May 22, 2018