The French sliced their way through 25.9 kilograms of cheese per person in 2013, compared with none per person for China, according to a report by the International Dairy Federation.
Well, not quite none. The Chinese ate 49,000 tons of cheese in 2013, a number which, when divided by the population of 1.3 billion, equals 0.000037 tons each. That’s not very much, but Chinese cheese imports increased 22% in 2013 compared with the year before, the IDF reported.
This reflects a trend across Asia, where a rising demand for cheese is boosting U.S. exports, which grew 21.6% between 2012 and 2013, the report notes. People in Asia are eating more cheese as fast food—mainly pizza—becomes more popular and as diets generally change as people get richer.
World trade in cheese rose by 2% in 2013, to 2.4 million tons, according to the report, and the benchmark Class III milk future contract on the CME is 14.4% higher this year to date.
“The global cheese market is characterized by the fact that several of the leading producing and exporting countries are also among the largest cheese importers,” the IDF said.
And so, voilà! The French both buy and sell a lot of cheese.