A year ago, U.S. dairy farmers were worried about a souring in demand for their products overseas. Mexicans weren't buying as much dehydrated milk. In China, demand was down for American pizza cheese.
Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC reported for All Things Considered that dairy farmers were having some of the toughest times they'd ever faced.
But now, as Bloomberg News reports, "Asia's growing appetite for pizza and cheeseburgers means the U.S. is exporting the most cheese ever."
Indeed, the U.S. Dairy Export Council says that so far this year total cheese exports are up 56 percent from the same time last year. Exports to South Korea in the March-May period were up 96 percent from a year earlier. To Japan, they were up 92 percent.
There are ripple effects in the U.S.: Bloomberg writes that "cheddar cheese at American supermarkets climbed to $5.435 a pound in May, the highest since at least 1984, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show."
But the exports are also a sign that economies elsewhere are on the rise — which could be good news for other U.S. exporters as well.